Advent: Day 1
1 Thessalonians 5:11, Revised Standard Version
Everyone needs encouragement, especially teachers.
I have a friend who teaches special education students in a neighboring state. Hers is a particularly challenging situation in a low-income school. She lives, breathes, eats and sleeps stress practically every day of the week.
Typical of most teachers, my friend works long hours. She stays late after school and puts in time on weekends, so that she can plan effective lessons that meet her students’ needs. However, those long hours sometimes take a heavy toll, and then my friend feels depressed, apathetic and ineffective.
Several weeks ago, my friend and I agreed to encourage each other with daily good-news e-mails. These messages are not lengthy pedagogical ruminations, but simply little uplifting notes to remind us that no matter how difficult teaching is, we are not incompetent and we can do what needs to be done for the good of our students.
Here are a few excerpts from recent good-news e-mails:
My friends came last evening. They left a whole bunch of homemade soup for me.
End-of-day good news: managed to get two naps today. Maybe I’ll stave off the worst of the sickness!
I get along very well with my new department chair.
I’m having to stretch today: It was rough, yet I’m still alive!
I have some very sweet kids, particularly the 3rd graders. We were discussing the weekend, and after listening to their plans, I said, “Well I have a lot of paperwork to do, so I will be working a lot this weekend. “Juan” who has a speech impediment due to cleft palate (but he talks a lot and quite confidently) said, “I think you should take a break.” And when he left for the day he gave my aide and me a hug. Kids like that make everything worthwhile!
As mundane as some of these brief e-mails seem to be, they are real sources of encouragement to both of us. By focusing our attention on what went right that day, we remind ourselves that no day is entirely devoid of something good. Bad news may have predominated, but seeking out the good news gives us hope and renews our spirits.
Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, is God’s invitation to us to experience spiritual renewal by looking forward with hope. The difficult events of a given day may tear us down, but those who accept God’s invitation will be built up again by the Spirit.