About this time last year, I was out shopping and enjoying one last day of freedom before pre-planning started for the school year. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t shake the “back to school” anxiety that had kicked in and my stomach was already twisting into knots. I knew that no matter what I did to try to get ahead of the tide, the first weeks of school would be overwhelming and exhausting.
Most of my worry was self-imposed. Even after twenty years as a media specialist, I was always afraid that I wouldn’t measure up. I wanted to do my best to help the teachers at my school, who would be working feverishly to get their classrooms set up and needed their technology working. I wanted to make sure the new staff members felt welcomed and had their questions answered. I wanted the media center to be cleaned up and inviting when the students came in. And there were always endless meetings and new policies to take in and books to be ordered and computers to be cataloged. On top of all this, I was coaching Cross Country, which started up immediately. Once the first weeks were behind me, I knew I would settle into a comfortable rhythm, but the dread of going back hung over me like a cloud. Could I do it one more year?
Then God spoke to me as I pushed open the glass door to TJ Maxx. Sitting atop a display was a small square sign that said, “You Got This.” I needed to hear those words of encouragement!
I bought it for $5 and put it by the check out computer in my media center. When I did my beginning of the year spiel with the students, I encouraged them to have confidence that they would make it in middle school. I hoped that seeing the sign might give them a little boost each day, but it was really there for me. I needed to hear God’s voice telling me “You got this” on a regular basis.
“You Got This” could be a modern translation of Philippines 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That verse is telling us that we can get through whatever comes before us, only just not by ourselves. On my own I can push through and get some things accomplished but to do my best in life, I need to be in sync with the Holy Spirit inside me. And when those times come when I can’t see how I’m going to make it, this verse gives me the assurance that I don’t have to do it all by myself.
I’m learning to take every little detail of my day and give it over to God. Once I’ve prayed about what’s worrying me and asked Him for what I need — patience, clarity, focus, stamina, forgiveness, understanding — then I feel freed up to do the work necessary. And here is the anxiety cleansing part — I hear God saying, “You Got This” and I can go forth in confidence.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her devotional book Simple Abundance, writes about the delicate balance between our expectations in life and reality. “If your reality lives up to your expectations, you’re happy. If it doesn’t, you’re depressed.” Her advice is to do your best, then let go of the outcomes. “You dream. Show up for work. Then let Spirit deliver your dream to the world.”
This year I’m writing magazine articles and planning a beach trip instead of stressing over getting everything ready for the first day of school. But life is never without it’s bumps and I still need the encouragement of the “You Got This” sign, which now sits in my junky computer room at home. As I dream new dreams and transition to my next phase of life, I need that reminder.
My prayer is that no matter what you are facing today, you will know with assurance that “You’ve Got This” with the strength of Christ.