So, there’s always a lot to be thankful for…it’s just that some weeks, we might need to look a little harder for those than others. This week felt like a week of breakthroughs. One of those ‘breakthroughs’ was beautiful. The magnolia tree is bursting with buds and blooms….and the fragrance fills the air around it. It’s sat just green for a good long while, and when it bloomed, it bloomed all over. Love that. Some things are worth the wait to see, that’s for sure.
I saw some sweet breakthroughs with students as well. Kind of like walls that come tumbling down. Academically. Emotionally. Sometimes walls get built brick by brick, day by day, decision by decision, and before we know it, we have a huge blockade of an obstacle designed by our own hands.
But the cool thing is, walls can come down. Sometimes it just takes as much or more effort to tear them down as to build them.It takes determination and a willingness to see through to the hope of the other side before the other side is in the sights. That’s why sometimes people can’t (or won’t) break through to the other side…they want to see it first. But the cool thing is, a lot of the break through comes through the process of tearing down that wall. It’s not the growth comes when we see it. Most of the worthwhile change often comes in the working through…and so often by the time we get to the other side, we’ve already gained so much more than what we were hoping for. It’s like the breaking through the wall makes us more ready to enjoy what’s on the other side of the wall in the process.
This week was the week of the end of grade tests at our school, and oh the walls of fear and frustration these tests can build. That wall of expectation which the school system can place on students can feel like an insurmountable obstacle…especially for students who already have learning deficits and disabilities which make it difficult to climb in the first place. How proud I was these past two days to see students push through insecurities and fears and inabilities and show up to do their best..their best. (For one student, that meant testing from 8:30 to 2:15 with a short lunch break.) He pushed through the wall, and I was hopeful that he’d see gains. Well, I couldn’t hold back tears when I heard how much growth he made on the test. 14 points. And I can’t wait to look him in the eye tomorrow and say how proud I am of him! The standard the state has put on him still says he didn’t pass, that he didn’t measure up to the standard. But maybe the pushing through the wall and the working hard is preparing him in countless ways for challenges ahead. He worked and worked and didn’t give up in the face of lots of odds, and he has lots of us on the sidelines who know his story and will celebrate the victory just as much as we would’ve if he had scaled the State’s wall. Growth matters. Breakthroughs matter. They are worthy of celebration. I’m thinking that celebration and encouragement often help motivate to push through those walls that we are yet to face.
Speaking of things worthy of celebration…another breakthrough this week was that the high school baseball team will be going to the State Tournament! They pushed through the play offs one play at a time and came out on top of the Western NC Division. The Coach who has coached for years and stayed steady, steady , steady, and coached faithfully and consistently without fan fair and hype is taking his team to State for the second year in a row. I’m as proud of the coaches as I am of the players. We’re hopeful for a win, but aware that we’ve pushed through to the other side….there’s victory in even just being able to go to State. Am hoping blue skies are ahead for the Coach and the team in the same way that the blue clouds reflected off the charter bus today as they left the campus. Their team is a band of brothers, each with their own story, one of whom is battling cancer. His initials are on the back of all of their baseball caps. Yes, these boys are aware that going to State is something they’ve worked so hard for, but they are also aware that there are other battles people are fighting that are higher and deeper and wider than those we face. Thankful for the empathy and humility that comes with the awareness of other people’s walls, and needs for breakthroughs.
Some walls need to be pushed through and torn down. But some, some we just need to let down. I came home today to my daughter having cleaned the house and cooked dinner…she did so many of the ‘little things’…and when I walked through the door, instead of feeling like I had more to dos, I could just sit down and let down. I could just relax a bit and know that that was okay….that things were taken care of. Dinner was delicious…salmon and the side of broccoli casserole…but what was more of a gift was just to be taken care of. Sometimes knowing others are in it with you that comes from simple kindness can tear down walls in ways that brute force couldn’t touch. Walls we didn’t even realize were there can be torn down by the smallest acts of just being there, the simplest acts of kindness.
It’s an obvious thing to say that yes, some walls are barriers, obstacles to breakthrough. But other walls protect. They guard. They offer a place, a solace, a home. I love the verse that says, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7-8 When I came home today and could just sit back on the couch and kick my feet up and just “be”…am thinking that’s the kind of rest that comes with knowing we are in good hands, we are protected, cared for, loved. Here’s another great verse: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”Deuteronomy 33:27 He is a refuge…a safe place…around, and even underneath. “Underneath are the everlasting arms.” Awesome. Because sometimes it’s not just barriers to push through that can be difficult, there are instabilities and uncertainties in our worlds that can shake us to the core. But He is solid ground to stand on in that He doesn’t change, and “His mercies are new every morning.”
I’m so thankful that God is both a safe place – a wall of protection, and a breaker of barriers, of the walls that confine. His grace has broken through barriers we can never touch on our own, and His grace draws us near. His grace allows us to not have a barrier between us and Him, but to come boldly to His throne. Boldly. We can come boldly not because of what we have or haven’t done, but because of what He has done and who He is. Like a child with safe walls that knows he is being cared for, we can rest knowing that God’s grace has broken through the greatest of barriers so that we don’t have to. That’s definitely something to be thankful for.
Well, I don’t know if I’ll post this or not. It’s funny, I think so often the writing is more for me…reminding myself of things. Because sometimes the good walls of protection feel invisible, and the big walls of barriers feel like they are 20 feet tall, and I need to remind myself to think on what’s true, to not lose heart. What’s a huge wall to me, is nothing to the God of Creation, and what’s a big difficulty to me can disappear like mist when seen in the Light of the grace of God. He is a refuge, Savior, Redeemer, a strong tower . Here’s one more awesome verse. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Proverbs 18:10. So, He’s my rock – solid ground underneath, my fortress- protection all around, and my deliverer- protection that pushes through… Just a few reminders that He is worthy of our trust in the big and the little things…and that’s definitely something to be thankful for.
Hebrews 4:16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.