I’m a teacher. I have two jobs that I love! My first is volunteering as a teacher of English and Spanish at Path Light Academy, a small Christian school. My second job is tutoring and advising for the adult education program in my community. Both of my jobs have moved online and both come with so many challenges. I could complain and grumble about how hard it is to teach a foreign language sans face-to-face interaction or how many of my adult ed students have barely the time to scrape enough money to provide for their families let alone spend hours pouring over Internet and print resources and working toward their diplomas. I probably annoy them with my constant texts and calls as I strain to keep them on the path to achieving their pre-Corona goals.
COVID-19 has certainly changed my routine. Instead of waking early and getting all prettied up for work, I wake early to water my garden plants. I pray over my plants imploring God to grow them to bountiful maturity. I talk to my tomatoes and gently fluff my lettuce seedlings. I arrange my late-planting seed packets again and again wondering if my ideas for indoor gardening will provide any yield this winter here in Upstate NY. I’ve lived here my whole life and yet winter seems to turn the landscape into a barren, foreign terrain every year.
Church looks different, too. Hugs and fellowship have been replaced with text messages and meme sharing. Services online are a blessing but the sterility of my social life is something I would hate to “get used to” long-term. But, I do miss corporate worship. Singing to Jesus on camera changes things.
In a conversation with a dear friend last week, I expressed how difficult it is to be an online teacher, pastor’s wife, worshipper. I am gifted to teach and encourage. I watch intently in my classroom as my students work independently and I know each of them so well, I can tailor my lessons to each one’s needs and abilities. With the advent of online school, those nuances that made me a better teacher have been erased and now I honestly have no idea where my students are really at. I feel like my gift is being stifled.
In elementary school, I signed up to be a drummer. My dad played drums and I percussion was my passion. Of course, I was the only girl in the percussion section for many years from fourth grade to eighth grade when finally, another younger girl signed up. I thought I was pretty good on the snare and the timpani but often I was assigned to play the triangle, cymbals, xylophone. It was disappointing to say the least. When I was finally assigned a drum set piece, it was the Oak Ridge Boys’ tune “Elvira” and though I had practiced for hours, nervousness caused me to drop a drumstick at the semester-end concert in front of an audience that filled the auditorium. Embarrassing? Yep. Fortunately, I have overcome that anxiety and I continue as a percussionist in our family’s worship band. I haven’t touched a triangle or wood blocks since 1993.
All that to say, I feel like my Band Director in Heaven has proverbially relegated me to the rain stick during this season. I can really rock out as a teacher and sometimes I want to complain because I feel like my gift is bigger than this role I am currently forced to squeeze myself into. But, I will trust God because nothing surprises Him. He doesn’t worry that the gift he’s placed into each of us is “going to waste” because those gifts are not stifled. In fact, according to Romans 11, they are irrevocable. God didn’t take them from us and He certainly doesn’t want us to sit idly by waiting for life to normalize before we use our gifts in their customary way. No! Let’s discover what God is saying and how to use our gifts with excellence in this new normal regardless of how long this season plays out. Perhaps God just wants more cowbell!