Monday, February 8, 2016


I had a college moment this weekend, you know the times where you had so much work to do that you suddenly had an overwhelming desire to clean you room. Yep. That was my weekend. And, wow, my house was clean, and I mean spotless, but only for about twelve whole seconds because I do have an eight-year-old boy.

The cleaning frenzy was a desperate attempt to clear my head. William Zinsser in his book On Writing Well, says, "Clear thinking becomes clear writing: one can't exist without the other." Writing is usually how I clear my head, but I've started a dozen blogs without being able to write more than a few sentences.

I've been suffering the past few months from 3 AM anxiety attacks. I don't usually feel anxious, but for some reason my body has been waking up around 3 AM nearly every morning in a physical state of panic; heart racing, tightness in my chest, out of breath... Often I wake up anxious for a student, and those mornings don't really bother me. I just pray until my alarm goes off. Sometimes though, it's a bit ridiculous. Back in November I had one of these panic attacks because I had noticed Quinn's leopard gecko was looking a little off, and I wasn't sure if he was shedding or dying. I had a panic attack about a leopard gecko. I feel like that's a new low, even for me. The gecko was just shedding and completely fine by the way.

Around the time of the gecko panic attack, someone pointed out that as a teacher I probably have upwards of three to four dozen interactions a day that require some kind of emotional processing. A lab group dynamic I don't like, a difficult conversation that needs to happen, an email I need to write, a student that needs correction, a curriculum quandary - all of these can happen in one day before most people have even had breakfast. And if teaching and coaching a hundred hormonal teenagers isn't providing enough fodder, there's always at least a dozen or so parenting failures to process. It would seem that I already have enough material to wake me up early for the rest of my life.

I was reading through Daniel last week, and in response to the unpleasant vision of chapter 8, he says, "And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king's business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it."

I sat with that verse for a minute. Then a day. Then a week.

I have a hard time admitting that sometimes the knowledge of God, that his presence in my life is exactly what makes me heartsick. The news of refugees or trafficked women, the heartbreak of a student, my own sin... So much of this world - of my own heart, even - leaves me sick and appalled and awake at unreasonable hours of the morning because I know the one who has the power to fix these things and he has not yet done so. I am appalled by my own capacity for sin. Hearing about the evil in the world makes me physically nauseous. I deeply grieve the pain that my students inflict on each other.  I know that after writing about my anxiety I may be assaulted by a barrage of well meaning people armed with random verses implying that if I really had faith, I wouldn't wake up at 3 AM, but somehow I know they are wrong.

I am deeply grateful that God has not given me the appalling visions like he gave Daniel. Instead he has given me this life, my students, and this world, breaking my heart for each of these things. But he has also called me to get up and go about his business with my sick heart and weak knees and poor understanding. So I go forward without clear understanding, but perhaps with a little more faith.

A citrus grove in Belize

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I feel like you've been reading my journal. Your words, however, are much more clear and eloquent.