Today is my grandmother’s birthday. Memaw is cheering me on from her heavenly home as she cheered me on my entire life. I have these little notes from her I like to read sometimes. Her words are precious to me. She gave me good advice and great words of encouragement often by asking me questions rather than telling me what to do.
I remember when I was considering graduate school, I verbally pondered about the time requirement.
She asked me, “Well, at the end of two years what will you have if you go to school?”
I said, “A degree.”
She said, “And what will you have if you don’t go to school?”
“No degree,” I replied.
“Seems pretty clear to me, the two years will pass regardless, you just need to decide what you want at the end of the two years.”
I think about that conversation often, because it is a foundational conversation in my life. The time will pass. When making choices I have must decide what I want at the end of it.
Each school year I began with the same thought in my mind. The year will pass. I can either serve these children with all of my talents and all of my heart or I can do a half-hearted job. Regardless, the time will pass.
Our daughter, Jacy, is entering high school this year. We have four years, which will pass whether we are there cheering her on or not. Whether we spend time hosting her friends or helping her through opportunities, the time will pass. What kind of relationship do we want at the end of this time? Where do we want her to be in her life as she leaves high school and most likely home?
Kaitlyn, the nineteen year old, is finding her way into adulthood. We are trying to navigate the waters of parenting a young adult, which is hard. Our decisions are always about where will she wishes be at the end of the next five years or ten years. The time will pass, but how do we all best invest it?
My grandmother also told me to make my choices based on the people who would be those listed in my obituary as my survivors. I have fallen short on that advice plenty of times, but as our children grow up, the advice has become a grounding thought for me.
At the end, my bosses, my colleagues, my students, my church peers, and most of my friends will most likely not be listed as survivors. While all of these people have brought valuable things to my life and I am thankful, ultimately few will end the race with me. My finish line will be with those few who are my precious cheerleaders and God. My choices are made with this thought in mind.
School is beginning and teachers and principals are setting the wheels into motion. In honor of my sweet Memaw, my thoughts are simple for all of us.
First, great teachers always begin with the end in mind. Where will these students be on the last day of the year? The time will pass, so make the most of it and teach or lead with your whole heart. Students should not only grow academically, but also emotionally, mentally, and socially. How will you assist in these efforts? How can you spend the limited time you have each day with each child helping them to see a greater vision for their lives? How can you use your words to help them develop a greater sense of purpose for their lives? How can you use the academic lessons to teach great life lessons about what it means to serve others? The time will pass, how will you most effectively use it to make the world a better place?
The second lesson is in the midst of planning and grading papers, remember those you will be survived by in the end and sow into them as much as you can possibly sow. The time will pass regardless, but how you invest it now will directly impact the relationships you have in the future. I have worked so hard to find balance in my life in the past ten years. I have failed so often, but slowly I am learning to balance life. The difference is rather than making my “survived by” group one of the pans on the balance, they are the central pillar upon which the pans are balanced.
I am thankful for all of the comments and for those of you who have sent me messages asking when I would begin blogging again. I am back. I have spent the summer enjoying my family, reading for fun, and refreshing my heart. In a world that seldom appreciates rest, I can say the rest was much needed and precious. Now I am ready to blog, to work, to parent, and to serve God in all He calls me to be. The time will pass, I choose to be at peace and of service.
I am a teacher, which in a single word, sums up my passions and my belief in the future.