All or Nothing

I’ve had a full year of a sabbatical where I was able to volunteer my time and step into different roles that still allowed me a lot of space to rest and renew my passion for teaching and teenagers and theology… and teaching teenagers theology. This past week was fully loaded with staff meetings and conference as we gear up at BFA to welcome students back to school a week from Wednesday. That meant it was the first week back to full time work for me in over a year, and I was pretty wiped trying to engage fully in that and still step up in my walking.

Cindy went on a couple walks with me, and I’ve made it to the middle of the Bauhof with no braces (just over half a kilometer). I won’t give up the walking when I go back to work, but I know that this week is just the start, and I’m in a marathon learning to walk here. I had a month to settle back into German life, and there were limited things I could do to prepare for school until getting some of the information from this week. Now that my inbox is flooded, I’m doing my best to finish all the necessary tasks. Yesterday, the neighbor girl had asked if she could come bake with me in the afternoon (specifically, she asked for a whole day playdate with me, but agreed that just coming to make banana muffins was enough for now).

The little one showed up earlier than I expected and actually accompanied Cindy and I on my walk with a tag along sibling who happened to be in the yard. After the walk, however, the neighbor girl commented that my house was “soooo messy” when she saw my lesson plan prep spread over my tiny kitchen table. She didn’t seem to notice the puffs of flour coming from the bowl she was mixing or the fact that she smeared the batter around when I made her clean up the blob on the floor and then left a trail to the trash bin. I was wholly committed to this baking playdate though, and the little one brought down her Disney memory game for us to play while the muffins were in the oven. We couldn’t use my kitchen table because of the aforementioned mess, so she moved to the next room and told me my living room was messy too (there were coasters on the coffee table that needed to be moved so we could play our game).

When the first Ariel card was flipped, the little neighbor told me she wasn’t allowed to watch The Little Mermaid because, “The Little Mermaid has a bad attitude, and sometimes I do too, so I shouldn’t watch her.” It reminded me of one of my favorite teaching lines: Theology is caught, not taught. Ariel is not the best role model when it comes to respect and positive attitudes. Ariel has a great singing voice and penchant for adventure, but what my little neighbor is more likely to see is the disrespect for adults that sixteen year old aquatic princess has.

In one of the staff breakout sessions Friday, we were chatting about the school culture and how we want students to know we are all people in process who will mess up but can receive grace and grow continually. I want to model growth to the neighbor girl while also encouraging her to grow which is why we took turns sweeping up the floor after we baked the muffins. After we finished the muffins, I finished my first quarter outline for my class and went to bed. Today, I cleaned up the mess. I couldn’t get to everything yesterday, and that’s okay. I’m learning that while it might feel like everything is being dumped on me at once in the staff meetings, I really have been gifted with easing back into life in this community, and I still really love my job. I also know that it isn’t all or nothing, but rather, I can take big tasks and break them down into manageable sizes before moving on to the next big task.

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