Happy Saturday Friends!
I am currently in the process of cleaning my house, enjoying breakfast Bagel Bites(yes, they exist!) and debriefing from State testing week in 3rd grade.
I know. State Testing. two words that invoke fear in anyone’s head. Whether student, administrator, or teacher. We have all been there. All our effort, all our tears, joys, struggles, triumphs. All boiled down to one label. one score. In fact, people thought I was crazy when I agreed to move from a primary grade to testing grade. I guess I just need a little crazy in my life.
As I walked into my classroom the 1st day of testing. I was feeling the fear. We had worked with the kids, they were ready.
Before I got to school,I had a good breakfast, I fixed my hair, I listened to a Beth Moore message as I was getting ready.
Then, in the middle of prayers with my husband( I know, I know, he’s the BEST), I freaked out and started wondering about all the unknowns in our life. Like big stuff. Like when we should buy a house, when we should have a baby, should we adopt, where would be be residents for his church planting program, where we should spend our time, when was I ever going to get a cat.
This is crazy. I’m about to go administer a STATE test.
That’s when I realized it. I was letting my fear about that test take control of my brain. I wasn’t fixing my eyes on Jesus. I was focusing on my fear. We’ll get back to this.
Back to my classroom. Kids were coming in 5 minutes. The little notes and gifts were on the desks. My mind was swirling with all these thoughts from the morning.
Then, I remembered a little personification from a figurative language Will Ferrell video.
“You gotta make friends with your fear.” Reese Bobby-Talledaga Nights.
Then, thankfully spiritual truth also entered my heart. I am using two version because I liked them both too much!
“Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
” Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4(MSG)
What Jesus?? Testing my mosiac of students with one standard test is JOY??? Watching kids my 4 IEP students, 11 ELL, take the same test as my students that read at a 5th grade level. Knowing that they will be labeled as below basic, basic, proficient, or advanced based on ONE TEST? Does the test care that his mom leaves for days on end, or that they have to share their Friday snack bag with a family of 6, or that she read at a KG level and after two years of investment is finally at 2.6, or that she is giving a ten dollar gift card she won in testing PLINKO to her mom so she will have something too?
Does it measure the other things I have taught this group? Does it care that they have more heart, more character, or more perseverance than any group I have seen? Jesus, you really want me to count this test as Joy?
No, Jesus, I know JOY.
Joy is waking up on a sunny day, running through my neighboorhood, blasting NeedtoBreathe, going to ZUMBA, coming home to a clean house, and eating pancakes.
Joy is a day spent with my family, my best friends, or my man, playing games,riding rollercoasters,watching Broadway musicals, laughing, and eating.
Joy is laughing with my 18 precious students over the figurative language Will Ferrell video, playing kickball, eating popsicles, reading Love that Dog, and hearing them say “Best day ever!”
As I prayed, it hit me. This test is testing me too. Yes, my name will be attached to it and I will be labeled along with the students. I have a hope, however, GREATER than this test.
My hope is in Jesus. He is my savior and redeemer. He is the ONLY person who can tell me what I am worth. He knows that I am worth more than a test. He died for me, my students, and the world.
My students, whether they are believers yet or not, are WORTH so much to Jesus.
I was faced with two options. I could either be stressed, worried, and show that on my face, or I could show those kids who are SO WORTHY that they could conquer this test, and it could bring them Joy.
You see, in James, the joy doesn’t come from the actual test. It comes from the endurance. The perseverance and the stretching of our Faith.
So for our 3 days of testing, we treated as JOY. We ran through banners. We took dance breaks. We ate snacks( THE BEST PART). We ate outside and enjoyed each other. We worked hard during testing time, repeating our motto. “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” We endured the test all a little bit stronger and braver, myself included.
Will all the kids do as well as we hope? I’m not sure? Will they still be labeled? Will teachers still be labeled? Sure.
My hope is though that my students can be begin to see they are worth so much more than one test. I pray they take that with them.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The thing I was going to get back to. You see when I started giving into my own fears, I started spiraling into fearful thoughts of all these things in my life.
The house, cat, baby, ministry, test scores were all wrapped into one fear.
How would people see me? If we go off and join a church plant for experience, what will people think? If we rent a house for another year, instead of buying, will people think we are successful? If we don’t ever have a family the biological way, does that make me less of a wife? If we want to get our lives together before having a family, are we selfish? If my students score badly, am I a bad teacher?
Approval. I was fearful of others approval.
At the moment I realized that, Jesus spoke life into me again. He reminded me that some of these things will happen, some may not. Whatever happens though, I am worthy because he died for me.
He reminded me that I can walk BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY into whatever he has for me. My hope is not in this world. My hope in Jesus.
Thank you Jesus.
I pray that whatever comes our way today that we will remember that our value is not in the world. Our value is in you. Help us to have JOY through it all. We love you and thank you.