“I don’t know what to say, except it’s the last week of school and we’re all in misery.”
I’ve paraphrased one of my favorite quotes from Christmas Vacation to describe the last week of May, when the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and those of us who work in a school are exhausted and in foul moods.
Everyone hates the last week of school. Kids and teachers are tired of each other, paperwork looms over the staff and the endless cleaning out has to be done. I especially despise this time of year because I become the stereotypical librarian shaking kids down for overdue books that they promise me they will bring the next day. Like Ellen Griswold sneaking a cigarette as she furiously chops vegetables, we’re all making the best of it.
When I’m tired and stressed during these last grueling days, it’s easy to wonder if I’ve accomplished much during the year. Even though I get some nice notes and cards from students, I have to accept the fact that I may never know if a book I recommended touched a child or if a kind work I gave them got them through the day. I go on faith for that.
Not having tangible results is difficult in life. We bust our butts trying to make a difference at our jobs or with our families and often things never seem to change. But I’m learning that God is working even if we don’t see Him.
I’ve had a reminder of this on my drive to Valley Point each morning. In October I posted about the road work I’ve been going through to cross over Interstate 75. For ten months now I’ve wound around the same orange barrels, concrete barriers and stop signs. If I only look at the road in front of me, it appears that no work has been done, that I’m going through this maze for nothing. But if I look over to my left, I see the men and women in their yellow vests and hard hats toiling in all kinds of weather. I see huge trucks, cranes and piles of rock and rebar. I see a smooth road of concrete. The new bridge is taking shape.
In the same way, I’m unaware of God working next to me while I trudge through the difficult times. But every now and then, like this Saturday at our Northwest Georgia Writers’ Conference and at my friend’s son’s wedding, I get a glimpse of all He has been doing and I’m amazed.
Chance encounters, people who have gone out of their way to help me, friends that I’ve been blessed with – these are all gifts from God that have propelled me forward. When I have railed against the obstacles in front of me – just like the detour signs on my morning drive – I didn’t see God patiently piecing it all together, taking care of me when I didn’t know it, paving the way for me. More and more I’m trusting in that.
God’s grace will get us through these last crazy days of school. I’m slapping on a smile and doing my best to not lose my cool, to get my reports done and the books put away. After a few weeks of rest and working in my flower garden, hopefully I’ll be ready to see the students again and gear up for the new year. And I may even be crossing over that new bridge come August!