As a new teacher, I don’t know if it was just me, but I constantly felt as if I were under a microscope 24/7. Whether it was my imagination, and it probably was, I felt like every single person I came in contact with throughout the day was judging me. Judging my words, actions, how my students behaved, how I spoke to them, how I spoke to their parents, and then of course how I planned my lessons. From the principal to my assistant, right down to the students themselves, I lived in a state of anxiety and unrest from day one over what these people may or may not have been thinking about me. Let the record show that I have a nasty habit of overthinking every single detail of every single thing, particularly when it’s related to something that I am beyond insecure about. As you can imagine, these tendencies made my first two years of teaching absolutely miserable. It’s no way to go through life. First of all, it was a selfish way of thinking since it basically assumes that everyone I encounter during the work day has nothing better to do than critique me and pour over every detail with a fine tooth comb. Secondly, this toxic state of existence, over time, truly contorted the reflection that I saw when I looked in the mirror.
When I was in the thick of my second and most challenging year of teaching, I tended to dread the odd moment when I would receive a compliment about something classroom-related. I knew that when that moment came, I would immediately be flooded with self-deprecating thoughts and feelings that would linger for far longer than I wanted. At first, it was fairly easy to remind myself that this was only my second year and that no matter how much it felt like it, I wasn’t expected to have all of the answers. The further we went through the year and the more difficulties I began to face with my students, the harder it became to not just remind myself of that, but to actually believe it. At many points during the year (and even now, at times), if you would have said anything about me being a good teacher, I might have just laughed. Or cried. Probably both.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped seeing myself the same way. I began to only be able to see the flaws in my actions, never the moments that may have actually done some good. To feel this way over the course of a school year was unbelievably draining and so often left me feeling run down and defeated but that is where God stepped in, as He always does. Although that year was the hardest of my working life, it was also the year that He led me to a new church home where I have been able to carve out a place for myself with a circle of fellow Christ followers in the Groups ministry. During a time when my opinion about myself was so low, my eyes were opened to the truth that when God looks at us, all He sees are His children whom He loves with a love so deep and fierce that I cannot even begin to imagine it.