There’s something about the first day of ANYTHING that combines to be one part fear, one part anticipation and one part bravado. My friend and fellow blogger Christina Hubbard of Creative and Free takes us on her First Day journey as her kids head back to school. Christina and I met last year at a writer’s conference in Chicago. I was immediately struck by her inquisitive nature and her open gracious spirit. She is a mother. A writer. An artist. And her soulful, deep-waters writing helps make me a better person and a better writer. A few weeks ago I was honored to guest post on her blog. And this week, I am honored even more so to feature her on mine…
How First Day Fears
Can Find Your Faith
When You Can’t
First day fears feel so wrong, like looking up at a sheer rock face we’re supposed to climb when we’d rather slide back down the rocky scree to safety.
I didn’t want the first day of school to come. I thought I did. Really, I didn’t.
I wanted to be the fierce Let’s-Do-This-Thang-Mama. Pretending to have it all together is like telling you I like to eat worms for breakfast. A complete crock.
I thought I was ready for the first day. As it turns out, I wasn’t.
Let’s face it. I was a mess before the first day. I couldn’t even lead my son in to meet his teacher when we got to sneak a peak at his new classroom. So he would be less afraid on the real first day, I was supposed to be strong. I had planned to be brave, but I wasn’t. My husband took his hand and carried the torch for all of us.
I didn’t know how this would feel. No one told me I would flash back to my daughter’s first day of kindergarten and feel tidal waves of missing her again. It felt like a double loss—sending two kids off to a new school for the first time. I wasn’t prepared for the surging emotions, but I don’t suppose anyone is. I longed for the sending off to feel like embarking to a new land, like our recent roadtrip, but it didn’t.
We made it home that night. While I consoled myself with courage tips from Bear Grylls, my husband tucked in the kids. They fessed to being nervous too. There’s strength in the solace of knowing we’re not the only ones who are scared.
I love what Bonnie Gray says about letting ourselves feel at the gut-level:
“…There comes a time when it takes more faith to fall apart with Jesus than to stay strong enough to stop it from happening.” (Finding Spiritual Whitespace)
My husband and I talked into the night about why our decision felt hard even if it was the right thing. It’s ok to feel broken up, to admit we have no idea what we are doing. Before he shut off the lights, Bobby said, “It’s going to be ok.”
The strongest faith grows from the most broken places. Falling apart helped me believe my husband’s words fully. Falling apart helped me believe the words God had whispered for months: “Trust me. It’s going to be ok. I love you.”
Let’s skip the part in the middle of the night where my thoughts raced like a rat in a wheel. (I remembered I hadn’t put my little Jedi’s pencils into his pencil box. Will he be able to open the package by himself? Dear, Lord… I must have prayed it fifty times.)
What transformed all of our fears into fortitude was admitting we couldn’t summit this mountain alone—not without God or each other.
Our whole family walked into the elementary double doors the first day. We came nervous, scared, and unsure—AS IS. This is the adventure our family has been preparing for, the change we prayed about, the step of faith we took. By God’s strength alone, they walked tall and so did I.
We didn’t have it all together. We held hands for a while and hesitated for a minute. All the kids were being ushered into the gym. Clearly, it was time to go. Our hands released, and I exhaled.
My husband and I went for coffee and sat together marveling at our composure and theirs. Clearly, we had nothing to do with it.
God uses weakness to give us the greatest strength. He takes our tied up, twisted up fears and uses hard things to make us mountain climbers.
Go ahead. Fall apart. Hold hands. FAITH FOUND.
The first day of school happened. Today is a few days after, and I’m still not prepared or happy about it.
We did it anyway, with God’s supernatural strength—nothing else. We came to Him at the end of ourselves—clueless and vulnerable. When we admitted our helplessness, the first day became do-able. We admitted our inability and the pressure in the can released. Bear Grylls has it right:
Take it from the guy who really does eat worms for breakfast.
Take heart, fellow climber, you’re not trekking alone.