(Wo)men are that they might have sleep.

That’s what I wish it said.  I’m all in favor of joy–but right now, the most joyful sight I could think of would be the back of my own eyelids.  I’m tired.  I’m achy-joint, scratchy eye-lid, fuzzy-brain chronically tired.  Some nights I’m too tired to sleep, and I wake up every hour looking at the clock.  Every day I wake up to my annoyingly loud alarm buzzing (the only effective setting I’m sorry to say) wondering if I’m going to make it.  Somethin’s gotta change…but nothin’s gonna change.  This is my life until the first week of June.  Come on June….   

For those readers who have missed my extraordinarily self-centered posts of late, let me catch you up on me.  I started teaching early morning Seminary three weeks ago.  I started graduate school four weeks ago.  I started a very fulfilling but manic-crazy job six weeks ago.  My shortest days are 13-14 hours of breakneck busyness door to door, and my longest are 16-17 hours.  I’m doing a lot of things, but let’s just say I’m not "going the extra mile" in any one of my endeavors.  I love everything I’m doing, and I’m nowhere near wanting to give any of it up–but I’m behind in school, I’m tired at work, and have to leave early twice a week to get to class.  And then there’s Seminary.

I will say, I’ve been prepared and present for Seminary every day.  Every day those kids get a well crafted lesson, and they get my most energetic self.  I’m bouncy, I’m excited.  I’m funny.  I keep the lessons moving.  We’re on task, and we’re on target to finish on time.  But I’m worried that the kids aren’t feeling the spirit, because I’m not feeling the spirit.  I’m going on adrenaline, and I feel like I’m too tired to calm down enough to feel the peace I need to feel the spirit.  I try to create a classroom environment and present spiritually based lessons that will allow them to feel it, but I can’t tell. 

Now, here’s the thing.  I’m doing the best I can.  I’m not one of those run yourself into the ground trying to be perfect and keep up appearances kind of Mormon.  I don’t know what else I could do, and frankly if I did, I’m not sure I’d be willing to do it.  I really think that somehow God will make up for my lack–my lack of energy and ability.  I hope he will–someone has to.   These kids deserve an introduction to the Book of Mormon that is full of wonder and full of joy.  I want them to inhale it and love it and be buoyed up by it and find hope and peace and security in it.  I want them to feel all the things that I do about the gospel and about the scriptures.  They need to start their lives with that kind of foundation.  They need to discover God at the same time that they discover themselves–at the beginning of this eternal partnership that we all embark on. 

So, I guess I can just say that I have faith.  I have faith that I’ll feel the spirit again, because I know that our spirituality is cyclical, and I’ve bounced back before.  Maybe I’m just learning the adult version of the lesson I want them to get from one of our "superstar" scriptures:  you must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ and endure to the end….or at least until June.

Comments

  1. john fowles says:

    What you are doing is very important. I can assure you that the kids are feeling the spirit if you are immersing them in the scriptures. I grew up with early morning seminary and am very grateful for the experience.

    It is a huge sacrifice, but it is surely helping these kids immensely.

  2. But I don’t think you have to continue in steadfastness until you fall over and die from physical, emotional, and spiritual weariness. Of course we are supposed to sacrifice (and it isn’t a sacrifice unless it hurts) and strive to have the Spirit with us so we can be an instrument in God’s hands–BUT–I don’t think a dead person (or half-dead person, as you describe yourself) would be a very effective instrument in God’s hands.

    Don’t get me wrong–I genuinely respect you and admire you for your desire to teach seminary, go to graduate school, and generally do the best you can in spite of everything that is going on. However, I taught EM seminary my first year of law school, and, looking back at the experience I really wish I hadn’t accepted the calling (or “appointment” or whatever CES calls it). I can look back at the year and see that not only my physical health, but my emotional health, and my testimony, took a nose dive. I was just so tired and stressed out all the time–which led me to be cranky and critical and irrational.

    Are you sticking with EMS because you feel like there is no one else who can do it? That half-dead you as the teacher is better than some other inexperienced teacher? I just ask because that was my biggest concern about quitting. Which was pretty prideful of me–to think that no one else could do as good of a job as I could. But as soon as I expressed my concerns to the Bishop an excellent replacement was found. In fact, she’s much better than me.

    I would really suggest that you talk to your Bishop about your time commitments. It’s much easier to switch the EMS teacher in September than in November or February or…when you have a break down.

  3. john fowles says:

    Maria brings up an interesting point. At the risk of being accused of prooftexting (I am always wary of quoting any scripture in support of any position in the Bloggernacle due to the generally agreed upon position taken by many regular participants in the Bloggernacle, as shown in at least two T&S posts, here and here, about prooftexting), I would just remind you of Mosiah 4:27:

    And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a [wo]man should run faster than [s]he has strength. And again, it is expedient that [s]he should be diligent, that thereby [s]he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

    I am wondering about the tension that arises, or superficially seems to arise, when this bit of divine advice is read together with the Savior’s admonition essentially to “go the extra mile” and how this teaching has entered LDS religious life through American Protestant views of its meaning to apply to “magnifying” our callings in the Church. That is, given your busy life outside the Church, and the importance of your other activities, how are you to go the extra mile to magnify your calling as an early morning seminary teacher if you need not run faster than you have strength?

    You claim that you are not really going the extra mile at all in this calling but just treading water because of how busy you are (this is probably debatable–I am sure that you are indeed magnifying your calling and giving the kids a seminary experience that they are, unfortunately, likely all too ungrateful for). If that is true, and you are really to heed the advice not to run faster than you have strength, then you seem to be in somewhat of a condundrum. Maybe the answer is simply faith and, to prooftext again, to give effect to Nephi’s insight that

    I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

    This provides little practical guidance, however, in your situation where your responsibilities do not diminish but you can only hope the Lord will strengthen you so that you can run as fast as you need to without having to run faster than you have strength.

    You are in a difficult situation but, for the sake of the youth in your ward, I am glad you are doing it.

  4. Well, having read over my post, I clearly see that I shouldn’t blog in the middle of my weekly Friday night adrenaline insomnia fits! :o) I think the question I was meaning to stress was the idea of going through spiritual cycles, and dealing with the low points with faith.

    But reading your comments, you’re absolutely right that we are often asked to address the “go and do” scriptures in balance with the “don’t run faster than you have strength” scriptures. And yes, I’m certainly there now. John, thanks for your insights and kindness…I really appreciate it.

    Maria, thank you so much for your wisdom and kind words. Trust me I’ve certainly thought about that, and you bring up such good points, but for me, stopping seminary isn’t really an option. I feel very strongly, for personal reasons I won’t go into here, that I’m being tremendously blessed for accepting this calling, and to quit teaching would be exhibiting amazing ingratitude. Also, I have unfortunately fallen truly madly deeply in love with my 10 feisty cute, and surprisingly grateful, 16 year olds and thinking about quitting makes me want to cry. I realize that I seem of two minds here…I’m obviously trying to work things out.

    The one thing I know I can do is pray really hard that I can start calming down enough to feel the peace of the spirit. I actually feel like I’m making good progress in that this weekend. Thank goodness for Sundays…and hallelujah for a day of peace and rest. Also, I’m praying hard for energy and health. In practical news, I’m figuring out ways to get the time for studying set aside that I need. I feel like if I can just get caught up, even a little, I’ll feel like things are under control.

    On the other topic…I am curious, what do you all do to get through the spiritual valleys…to keep going when you are not readily feeling the spirit? How do you put that in perspective, and not get discouraged? How do you pull out of valleys? How do you keep serving when you aren’t getting the ethereal rewards? What thought processes to you go through to keep you going?

  5. I’m with Maria.

  6. Karen,
    I’ve mentioned before that last year I did the exact same thing you’re doing right now (EMS, grad school, work) and that it about killed me. What’s up with these crazy bishops asking grad students who work to teach seminary :) Well, for me it was a tremendous blessing. Regarding how do *I* get through the valleys… I just kept doing it. For me it’s a matter of continuing doing the best I could, even if I didn’t feel like the class had the Spirit. I think the Lord compensates. And He certainly will for you.

    I’m with you Karen, don’t try to get out of teaching. It’s hard but so worth it.

  7. Maria said that “my emotional health, and my testimony, took a nose dive.”

    At the risk of being insensitive, may I state that it is not true – at least not demonstrably true – that our environment *causes* disturbances to our emotional health and testimony. Rather, we cause disturbances to our emotional health and testimony by the way we choose to respond to our environment. We have a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for.

  8. Karen, about eighteen months ago I was pushing through a similarly intense stage of my life: I had a two-year-old and an infant, neither of whom slept through the night, a husband in medical school, a job (at home, blessedly), and about six months to research and write the last chapter of my dissertation and to assemble, produce and defend the whole project.

    I was exhausted all the time and often felt intense frustration. But it was also one of the most vital periods of my life—and you wouldn’t believe how much I miss it now. Supreme effort really does yield, if not always immediate success, sleep, or spirituality, supreme depth and vividness of experience.

    Good luck. You’re doing worthy things, and you won’t regret your effort.

  9. I think Rusty is right. If you can’t quit teaching seminary than you should just “keep on keepin’ on”. You’ll get into a liveable routine before too long.

    My husband taught EMS ar a time when we had infants, new jobs, etc. I think one of the most important things we did at that time was protect our sleep. It’s important and you’ll function so much better if you make it a priority.

    I feel for you, it’s such a hard thing to deal with.

  10. I think it is great to wake in the night and look at the clock and see that you have an hour or more to sleep. What’s the fun of sleeping if you do not know you have been doing so?

  11. I always thought it would be funny if someone would list watching t.v. and sleeping as a hobby. In my last class in school, someone in my class actually listed those as her hobbies in her intro to the class. She was a single mother who worked and went to school so sleep and leisure time were a sparse commodity. I guess I have never been much personally for burning my candle at both ends. :-\

  12. Levi Peterson says:

    Karen:

    You could get out from under the seminary teaching quickly and efficiently by wandering in one morning with a cup from Starbucks or Seattle’s Best (or whatever coffee shop dominates where you live). You won’t have to drink from it. Just place it on your desk and get on with the lesson.

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