It’s that time of the year again! All over the planet, feet (and fingers…can’t forget the online community) are headed to what was originally referred to as the schoolhouse. Preparations have been made, and even if not, no matter the circumstance, the fall (or rather late August/early September) represents a time for a recommitment to learning, growth and development. For me, this is the first “back to school” that I’m not slated to participate as a parent, yet my role as an administrator continues. At this point, I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten, and its best for students to hurry and arrive because the “pre-work” has me ready for Thanksgiving break. But in all seriousness, it is a blessing to have the opportunity to seek education, and just in case there is any anxiety present, let’s return to a few golden rules of engagement to properly ensure that our academic year is as successful we hope before we begin.
If we are not careful, we may find ourselves in a fierce yet unnecessary “battle royal” (its a reference from Bring It!) with others. God never intended the consideration of competition with anyone except attempting to be a better person, having a better prayer life, having a stronger relationship with the Creator, and becoming a better worshipper within oneself. Understandably, many have been disadvantaged, and there may be a hint of defeat when stacking up one’s preparedness, one’s reserve or one’s resources to another. Yet these thoughts may be countered by Zechariah 4:10 where we are instructed, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” This scripture is further enhanced by Philippians 1:6, where we our humble beginnings are affirmed, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” In other words, let us be grateful for new beginnings, with the assurance that God’s got us and “it.”
If nothing else, similar to the tagline for Gatorade, educational experiences will show you whether or not it’s in you. Just as the Lord demonstrates excitement for our follow through of initiating our dreams, we mustn’t get lazy or deterred by the inevitable calamity that emerges from our “YES!” I tell my students all the time that undoubtedly a major life crises will show itself during your pursuit of education. Whether it hits you directly as the learner, or if a family member is navigating it, or perhaps even your institution. This is far from claiming things in the atmosphere, but instead basic probability. All the more opportunity to enact a strong prayer life to plead God’s divinity in advance of something happening and/or enlisting God’s sovereignty for enduring what comes forth. As we begin new chapters, whether we are the ones expected to do the work, assign the work, or manage the work, let us pray for ourselves, for the environment under which we learn, for our instructors, for our parents/families, and most importantly for our learners. If you are not a learner, a teacher, an administrator, nor a parent, there is still room for your intercession. As you go about your day, lift up learners, lift up a standard of excellence in our classrooms, lift up love on the playgrounds and in the lunchrooms, lift up patience for difference, and clarity for confusion and peace for disturbance. Lift up safety and bind the enemy and his imps so that our learning may go forth without fear of the implementation of emergency plans and lock downs. Years ago, when the graduate was in preschool, we began having prayer each day before leaving home. Let’s just say in the words of one of my sisterfriends’, “that worked out alright!” Things still happened, but that endurance that we reference accumulated over time and operated like a well refined machine.
Often times within Christian communities, there is a push back for the adoption of worldly practices in concert with biblical principles. That being said, the implementation of visualization has great purpose and promise. As believers we walk a balance through taking each day as it presents itself (Matthew 6:34), but also appreciating the end of a thing (Ecclesiastes 7:8). When I was accepted into my doctoral program, I was over the moon with the excitement. My colleagues at Meredith College gave me a card, everyone having signed a message of congratulations and encouragement for the journey. I placed the card in front of my computer. Each time I sat down to work, that card was immediately within my view physically, but also it was a representation to encourage me emotionally and spiritually; and to remind me of my original prayer request to the Father for admittance to the program in the first place. We need reminders of what we petitioned God for, because difficulty will intentionally allow us to forget. The ancestors who could not read because of the color of their skin, the ancestors who helped others to read despite the color of their skin (which was against the law, and I use that word lightly) prayed for our liberation to seek education openly. When discouragement rears its ugly head, visualize death being a consequence for the activity of reading, or visualize those who had to endure taunts and bodily harm just to enter a school building, and even those who still do have opportunity to learn because of their gender, or because they must instead work because they must help care for their families. When you are consumed with those images, try visualizing your completion and your ability to bring each one of them across the threshold with you!
Learning provides invitation to adopt a disciplined lifestyle. Let’s appreciate it. Let’s slow down. Let’s plan more effectively. Let’s enjoy the process. It goes faster than we imagine. School days, school days, dear old golden rule days. Get ready! Here we come!