>The Beautiful Letdown

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It was a beautiful letdown
When I crashed and burned
When I found myself alone
Unknown and hurt
It was a beautiful letdown
The day I knew
That all the riches this world had to offer me
Would never do
In a world full of bitter pain
And bitter doubts
I was trying so hard to fit in
Fit in, until I found out
I don’t belong here (I don’t belong)
I don’t belong here (I don’t belong)
I will carry a cross and a song
Where I don’t belong
I don’t belong

“The Beautiful Letdown,” Switchfoot 

Since I’ve been a teacher, or something like it, the end of the school year (and first semester) has always been something of an anti-climax.  The last day of school seems to be about a week long, in the sense that nobody really feels like doing anything, and by the time students finally go home for good…I don’t know, but it’s almost like the whole semester/year never happened.

Maybe that feeling is an artifact of the schools I’ve been in, where retention of any sort is low and I feel like I’m treading water with the majority of my students.  I’m not even sure exactly what it is I’m expecting, but I know it’s…not quite this.  When I think back to my own high school days, I know I adored most of my teachers, but now I wonder if they knew that then?  I tend to put a high priority on letting the important people in my life know how much they mean to me, but I’ve noticed that…most other people don’t do that.  Aaaaand that’s kind of disappointing, especially when I feel like I’ve given so much.  (Codependent much?  Haha, I’ll get to that some other time.)  A few weeks ago one of my darling and troublesome little boys told me I was the best teacher ever–and a first-year too!–and all I can think was, “Oh, Chase, if only you knew how much it’s cost me to be here…”

This has been a year in which very little turned out the way I expected or wanted.  I thought teaching was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, though I knew going in that I probably didn’t want to stay in this district for more than two or three years.  Now I’m questioning whether classroom teaching is truly a good fit for my strengths and preferences.  I thought that my students would be good little people stuck in tough situations, and they are…only the situations seem to win more often than not.  (And then I have to admit that some of them just aren’t that good after all.)  I thought that I was a big girl ready for the real world, and it turns out that I was just ignoring the hurt and terrified little girl inside until she started to scream…and scream…and scream, until I couldn’t ignore her anymore.  I thought (sort of) that maybe I was finally going to get things right relationship-wise, and I just got on the same sick cycle carousel as before, only I spun out (and jumped off, to give myself credit) much faster.  I thought that maybe, after a year of trial in grad school, I was finally going to get things right, but in fact it became much worse.

As I think about all this, however, I realize that I wasn’t actually blindsided by any of these things, though I think the magnitude of my losses and disappointments was kind of surprising.  If I had been in a clearer state of mind, and better in touch with God and community, I might have seen it all coming.  Then again, if that were the case, it probably wouldn’t have been this bad either.  And if I had seen it all coming…I probably would have run, and I would have missed out on a lot of lessons.

It was a beautiful letdown
When You found me here
Yeah, for once in a rare blue moon
I see everything clear
I’ll be a beautiful letdown
That’s what I’ll forever be
And though it may cost my soul
I’ll sing for free

I wrote in a journal entry shortly after I decided to take this job that there were probably things I would learn here that I couldn’t learn back home, and while there is a panoply of excluded alternatives that I will never know, that prediction is most likely true.  Once again I am brought back to the idea of the desert that I first encountered two years ago:

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wildernessand speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
Hosea 2:14-15

This is after Israel is stripped down and laid waste, and God doesn’t sound like a very nice person at all.  But I always go back to this part because He does restore and renew, which was His purpose all along.  When disappointment piles on thick and loss and sorrow are so heavy I think I’m going to die…something tells me that it is not always going to hurt this much. That Someone knows I’m here.  And that Someone is good, even when everything else is not.

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