For many years one of the words that I often used to describe God’s work in my life was strategic. When I take the time to reflect upon my past, I’m always in awe of the people and circumstances that have been intertwined to bring me to this place and person that I am today. I could go on for days, but I’ll stick with how God has and continues to, weave the Ambleside community into my life to shape, grow, and heal me as a person.
It was about 13 years ago when I (begrudgingly) attended a Bible study for the first time. I wasn’t a Christian and didn’t particularly like Christians, but I was broken and desperate so I thought I’d give it a shot. I didn’t know that I was in a class specifically geared toward Christian discipleship, but when I heard the definition of “disciple” I knew that I didn’t meet the criteria. So after class, I approached the two facilitators and told them I didn’t fit the bill, but that I’d like to continue coming if they didn’t mind. Their names were Esther and Jill….so as you can imagine, they didn’t mind.
Fast forward 11 years. Teaching middle school hadn’t been on my list of things to do, but when the opportunity presented, it quickly became clear that God was at work. I accepted the position to teach 7th grade as well as high school math. Teaching math was another big “God moment,” but I can share that next time. My first year started out gloriously. I was experiencing the privilege of being part of a community like I hadn’t ever imagined, and every day was “bring your kids to work day!” Then Covid hit, things got weird, and we’re all figuring it out as we go.
So here we are! We’ve made it to 2021. It’s a brand new year full of opportunities, possibilities, and promises for what was to come. But as I rang in the new year, I felt something happening inside me. It had actually been going on for a few weeks, yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was feeling. Was it anger? Maybe. Sadness? A little. Anxiety? Could be. Maybe it was a combination of all three, but I recalled something I had learned about the healing and restorative nature of journaling, so I decided to write it out. I had no idea as I wrote that God was going to show me a deeper glimpse into the work He is doing in my life through Ambleside, but this time He would love me through my students.
As I wrote, I began reflecting on my past, my childhood, and my personal experiences as a 7th grader. And guess what I realized! It was a terrible year for me! To this day, seventh grade ranks as the single worst year of my entire life. As I prayed and cried and remembered, God showed me this precious group of students He has entrusted to me. He invited me to love these seventh graders as tenderly as I wished I had been loved that year, and He healed my pain.
And so again, just as in my last post, I am left to simply say…thank you, Ambleside. And thank you, God. We are each in the midst of a mighty work by a mighty God. And as we embrace this new year, let’s look around and discover where our strategic God has placed us (and our children!) to accomplish His good work.