“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
The end of the term brings with it a myriad of stresses, predominantly writing the end-of-term reports for my eighteen students. I had experienced this process as the last term came to a close, and felt prepared for it until everything else in my life spiraled in a perfect storm of chaos. This resulted in the most stressful two weeks I’ve experienced since arriving here. However, within that time of turmoil and stress, God, as He often does, revealed a new facet of Himself to me.
This two week period was packed full of stressors in every aspect of my life, the highlights being: moving houses, daily power outages, a runaway cat, and just being a teacher (that should be self explanatory for anyone who knows a teacher). Yet, now that I am existing in a place of complete calm, relaxation, and rejuvenation, I can see that these stressors brought with them opportunities to ask for help.
There is a quote in the movie Evan Almighty, where Morgan Freeman playing the role of God says “If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does He give them opportunities to love each other?”
I have always been someone who would take on the weight of others’ struggles as my own. Someone who strived to be as helpful as possible in every situation. Someone who would often place others’ needs and desires above my own. These may not seem like negative habits on the surface, but the people-pleasing part of me has burdened me my entire life. Not only has it made it difficult for me to determine what my preferences are, but it has also shaped me into being someone who does not value my needs, and doesn’t know how to ask for help when I need it.
My prayer and focus these past few months has been on reconditioning myself from this people-pleasing mentality that I have clung so tightly to for so many years. So, although at the time, I viewed these frustrating and inconvenient situations as unpleasant burdens, I can now see them as answers to prayer.
I needed to move all the furniture from my house to my new house, so I had to ask for the help of people with a truck and more upper body strength than me. The house was filthy when we got there, so I had to ask for the help of people who are more experienced at cleaning than me.
The power outages were interrupting my ability to complete the end-of-term reports on time, so I had to ask for an extension. By doing this, it was revealed that every teacher was experiencing the same struggle and also needed the gift of more time.
My cat ran away after only having her for two weeks, and although no one could make her come home, I had to ask for help in the form of holding space for me to experience my feelings. Someone to just let me cry and be upset. Someone to be hopeful with me, and for me when my hope was wavering. (The runaway randomly came home after two weeks of wandering the streets of Arusha … if only cats could talk to tell her tales).
My job is stressful on a good day, so I had to be honest with my students and ask for their help to get us through to the end of the term before I completely burned out. I had to ask for help from my coworkers who are more experienced than me on what to do to stretch my energy a week longer than I thought I could.
Now I am halfway through my break from school and feel more at peace, and in tune with my own personal preferences, and am growing in my ability to recognize not only the situations that I may need support, but also the right people to reach out to in each instance.
I will hold those two weeks in my heart as a reminder that when things are difficult I need to slow down and look for what God is doing in my life through the turmoil. Nothing is random, and nothing He does is for any reason other than to further His glory.