Tea & Cake

In my final year at university, part way through my final teaching placement, my godmother gave me a lovely teacup, saucer and side plate set. Her reasoning, as a retired teacher, was that sometimes you just have days where a lovely cup of tea and a slice of cake on a pretty plate is everything you need.

Today was not one of those days. Today was a fabulous days. We didn’t do anything particularly wonderful; it was like many other Mondays. We drove to Casterton and had a wander around the school; we played and sang and giggle; we fed and changed nappies; we smiled and had naps. Like I said, much like any other day.

Today was, however, also the day I realised that I had reserved my dainty cup of tea and slice of cake for days when I was beaten down, tired, or stressed. Days when lessons hadn’t gone well, or if an observation hadn’t been good. Days when I needed just a little something special to make me smile. But what about the days that are brilliant? The days where I laugh, and smile, and sing in the shower? What about those days? Don’t they deserve a little something special at the end of them?

So, this evening I baked a very sticky lemon drizzle. I cut myself a slice, and poured myself a cup of tea. 

A Promise for the Future

2 years ago I sat in my first teaching interview. I was a confident and calm 26 year old, smashing my final placement and assured of my final degree mark. I could do anything, be anyone. A question came up near the end, inquiring into my ability to handle stress – as I would be undertaking my NQT year which is described by many as the worst year of your life. Perhaps I should have been phased, but no. Not me. I could do anything. I could handle any amount of pressure and stress that was thrown at me. I remember, I sat in the interview, almost smug, with the interview panel looking knowingly at me. For a moment, I wondered if I’d crossed the confidence vs. arrogance line, but then I got the job, so I figured I was fine. I could do this. I could do anything. Me!

Unfortunately that wasn’t true, as almost a year later, in the spring term I unravelled and had to be signed off work for 3 weeks – just so I could sleep. It was then that the thoughts began to creep in: maybe I couldn’t do this. Me, myself and I. The pressure of the NQT year; the pressure of books to mark every day; just the general pressure and business of teaching had made me less reliant on God and more reliant on just getting through. I would think, I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine, as long as I can just get to the weekend, the evening, my PPA, half term, the holidays. I’ll be fine, as long as I can just get this set of books marked, even though it is already 10 o’clock at night. Thankfully, I found comfort in God’s word, and promise

I can do ALL things, through Christ who gives me power and strength… I can do it… but only if I rely on God. And so, I survived the first real low of my teaching. I’d never felt so passionately about a job before. I had to remember God is there. A God who allows me to cry out when I’m struggling.

In October, I had to reapply for my job. Obviously I knew I was sorted, as I had learned lessons and knew I could call on God to give me the strength I needed. Except… I hadn’t learned my lesson. Sadly, I just couldn’t be the calm and confident person that I was in my initial interview 18 months ago. I was a very tired, very hormonal and very emotional pregnant woman and, unlike pre-pregnancy, I have become less able to shut off the ways in which I show how I’m truly feeling. So, my nerves showed; I couldn’t blag it as confidently; I almost burst into tears; I felt sick. As I told a friend, I had also prepared myself, before I even walked into the room, for the eventuality of not getting the job. I just didn’t believe in myself, and certainly didn’t rely on God’s strength. A combination of all of these things, and the fact that there was a very strong level-headed candidate on the day, meant I lost my job. 

I was expecting sympathy from various colleagues… but what I wasn’t expecting was the small acts of kindness I experienced in the days following my interview. Cups of tea, and carrying books to the car to name just a few. But then, it began to make sense in the days and weeks that followed, through sermons and bible study. My whole attitude to work had changed in the September, from Jon’s first sermon on rest. I took my rest more seriously, but I also took my relationships with people at work more seriously. I had made friends.

But then it crept up again… I’m trying SO hard, I’m working SO hard, I’m being kind to everyone, I’m doing my job really well… But it still isn’t going right… Sure enough, God stepped in again. The youth pastor at our church gave this golden nugget during a sermon when I was feeling let down. He said answer the question, why do I bother?

So, why did I bother? This is why… because teaching is important. And because Jesus is with me. When I look back I see promises fulfilled. I see affirmation that I can trust God. Now, I’m not just on maternity leave, I am unemployed. I’ve just become a mum. And I have no idea what happens after that. Those that know me well know that I hate not having a plan, not knowing what is next. I feel uncomfortable with uncertainty. 

But I’m ok… I know that God has given me everything I need in the past, and I know he will give me everything I need for the future.