It is now the time of year when, no matter who you are, things are probably starting to drag a little bit. If you’re a student, you’re probably chomping at the bit to get out and enjoy summer. If you’re a teacher, you probably have a class full of students who are doing the same thing. If you’re a parent, you’re probably looking forward to vacation.
It is during this time of year when all of the things that you have allowed to pile up start feeling a bit heavier. All of the practices, music lessons, essays, presentations, track meets, and whatever else takes up space in your calendar tend to inspire regret, anxiety, and frustration.
It is also during this time of year when relationships can become tested because of all of this stress. Burnout can happen. Stress levels rise. Pressure increases. It is during this time of year that we are reminded about the truth of our entire lives:
There will be many times in our lives when everything piles up and it all seems to be too much. Our culture's attitude toward this seems to be one that prefers doing everything on our own. It is almost like we have something to prove. Does asking for help make us any less capable? Does it make us look weak? Why is it that we are so reluctant to ask for help?
Is it our pride?
Let me put it into perspective. Jesus, being God and all, probably didn't need anyone's help to do anything. However, he enlisted the help of a whole myriad of people to help him spread the Good News. He was all about collaboration. Even during his passion, he accepted help from Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross.
Even at his most broken-down, beat-up, vulnerable, humiliated moment, Jesus still accepted help from Simon. God accepted Simon's help. What's our problem then? If the King of the universe can accept help during his toughest times, why can't we? What makes us better and more capable than... God?
Last night, as I was watching Drop Dead Diva with my wife (I regret nothing), there was a scene where an Amish fellow said something to the effect of the load being lighter when everyone lifts. If you can lift it all by yourself... good for you. You'll be burnt out in no time. But, if there are people willing to help you carry your burdens, you'll be able to get more done and be healthier too! I don't get what the problem is here!
So if you're going through a tough time right now, or ever, don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Don't worry about how weak it makes you look or any of that garbage. We are called the BODY OF CHRIST for a reason. We're called to walk with each other and build one another up. We just have to be humble enough to let others live up to that calling.
Who's your Simon?
Let's have a conversation about Prayerful Planning.
As a pre-service teacher (entering into my third of three practicums), I have been “in the game” for all of three semesters so far. However, having spent three years in full-time youth ministry, I discovered that prayerful planning is not only in the job description, if you’re doing it right it is the job description.
As I sit here reflecting on my second practicum and thinking about planning for my third, I am brought back to my youth ministry planning days. I am reminded of heading to the chapel for a few minutes prior to starting my plans, or just saying a quick prayer asking the Holy Spirit to guide me. With these youth ministry planning memories in mind, I am now thinking about how this translates to Catholic Education. I want to know where those two worlds intersect and what you are doing to prayerfully plan in your classroom or youth ministry setting.
The obvious arena for prayerful planning is within the context of a Religious Education classroom. One could view both the Religious Education curriculum and the act of planning for it as a prayer. But are our hearts really in it? Are we truly going before the throne of God asking him where he’d like us to take things or how he’d like us to present the information required?
Now, the not so obvious arena for prayerful planning is in every other subject area. I can’t help but wonder how many teachers plan with a prayerful surrender to the direction of God (within the guides of the curriculum of course). If you do, how do you do it? I am well aware of how busy the lives of teachers are. I am also aware that not all schools are attached to a parish, or have a Blessed Sacrament chapel within them. Additionally, I am aware that not every teacher has the time to go to the chapel or spend a day discerning the direction of the course they are teaching. However, I do know that every teacher has the ability to say a quick prayer before getting down to planning.
Let’s Have a Conversation
Here are some primer questions. Let’s have a conversation about prayerful planning. Please comment below.
What do you teach and how do you incorporate prayer into the planning process?
Is prayerful planning a new idea for you?
What strategies do you use to involve the Holy Spirit in your planning?
Beyond lesson planning, how do you incorporate prayer into your days as you prep to teach the plans you’ve created?