Things We Carry

It has been a day. The night was long with sickness after battling aggravating symptoms for nearing a week and finally getting medicine that I knew would make me worse before making me better. I used to tell Heather when she was growing up that I needed mornings to be peaceful – mornings most of all, and that comes from way, way back – one of the things I carry. As I spend my days teaching the now familiar discipline of psychology, I often “feel” the truth of the words as I convey them, “everything psychological is simultaneously biological.” Sick so much in the mornings as a child – sick from worries and anxieties that translated into sick stomach, low-grade fevers, headaches, etc. and being told “it’s all in your mind.” 50+ years in and I’ve still not learned how to do sick very well. I especially don’t do sick stomach in the mornings well and it leaves me emotionally ragged, but I refuse to let it hinder me from what matters most.

Today I stayed home until my stomach settled enough to make it into work for my classes. I knew students had advising questions I needed to be there to answer, and there’s work to do that we are committed to doing together by semester’s end. So glad I made it as one class in particular brought students with much to share – pertinent to coursework and relevant to their present experience. Good work is accomplished when the time is right, and today was one of those days.

I love my job because I love students, and I love students because I love Jesus. He has given me the passion for encouraging young people as they journey toward adult life and into careers where they hope to use their gifts and talents to help, to heal, and to bless others. I believe teaching is one of the most rewarding of all careers because it gives opportunity to daily see progress toward worthy goals. To do it well requires sharing knowledge and sharing your heart. With every group, I’m aware each one brings past experiences, things they carry, that can sometimes feel heavy and burdensome. I am tasked to remember, to pay attention, to create and maintain emotional safety to the best of my ability, and to always extend compassion and care and a listening presence that offers hope when needed.

Maybe it is because of what I carry that uniquely equips me for this particular role. Maybe even days like today – the ones that start as hard mornings – are sometimes necessary to remind me to extend more love and kindness along with assignments and discussions and “work.” The papers will be written, the texts read, the tests taken, and all of that is necessary, but most importantly we will have gathered together and shared a journey and learned a bit more about what it means to grow together through challenges of many kinds.

No matter how alone a person can sometimes feel, this human experience is indeed shared – all of it -uniting us in ways too many to name…

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