Why Bother Stepping Away?

Why Bother Stepping Away?

I have been experiencing more stress than I thought. Normally, I carry the pressures of my job with ease. The routines I practice to maintain my health; exercise, meditation, eating well and getting a good night’s rest, usually keep me balanced. But this week was different. Though I wasn’t sure what I needed, my body told me I needed something more to get me through the week. So, when a new friend of mine suggested that I take Friday off from work, I considered it to be just what I needed.                 

           Stepping Away

I’ve become quite fond of Mrs. C., a relatively new employee and fast friend at my school. After she retired from a different district in another  state, she and her husband moved to our community. Starting out as a volunteer art teacher, she was soon hired to work part time as an aid in my classroom. 

Her enthusiasm, humility, cheerfulness and insights makes her a blessing to work with. She is not only aware of the needs of my students, but she is attentive to what I need too. 

For instance, every spring, I work with the music teacher to produce a musical performance depicting the history of Idaho. It is a lot of work. There are lines to memorize, songs to sing, poems to write and costumes to create. And then there are the rehearsals. 

On Tuesday, two days before the performance, I rehearsed the play one more time with my students. Mrs. C. stood nearby to assist wherever she could. The boys were restless, the girls were nervous and forgot their lines. I was tired and my patience was nearly gone. But we made it through our rehearsal and when I turned to Mrs. C. to ask how she thought it went she said,“Oh, it was lovely and they will do great, but I think you should take Friday off.”     

We filed back to the classroom and got back to work, but Mrs. C’s words stuck in my brain, “You should take Friday off.” 

I considered her remark. Taking a day off is never easy. There is no guarantee of finding a substitute teacher and if I were lucky to get one then there are the lesson plans to create. My first thought was that it is too much work to take a day off, but by the end of the day, I’d changed my mind. The thought blossomed into a plan.  

First, I approached my principal who approved my request. “You haven’t taken a personal day all year. I think you should take Friday off,” he said. 

Then, someone chose to substitute for me and I created an easy plan for them to follow.  Thursday the day of the play arrived. The boys settled down and took their parts seriously, and the girls remembered their lines. The performance was a hit. And now today, Friday, I am not going into my classroom. Instead, I am staying home.  

At first I was a little embarrassed that Mrs. C. saw my stress. But now I am only grateful.  Mrs. C. was right. I needed to take the day off.

Why bother stepping away? It is worth it to step away from our work when possible. Whether we know it or someone else points it out to us, taking a day off is simply what a body sometimes needs.

Why Bother Being Ready to Forgive?

Why Bother Being Ready to Forgive?

I once had a friend who told me that even though we were friends we would most likely and eventually offend each other. I thought it strange that he would predict such a thing, but he was right.  Looking back on that conversation I think he was simply stating a fact: that whether we intend to or not, people hurt other people. 

Though being offended is inevitable, we still get to choose how we respond and can be ready to forgive. 

Be Ready to Forgive

Resentment is a universal emotion. It grows inside of us when we’ve held onto an offense and refuse to let it go. Resentment is also like a spider web. It traps its victims in stickiness.  When offended, we get hung up by the lies we weave around our hurt feelings. We may think, “They don’t like me. They’ve never liked me. They just want to get even.” 

The narratives we write for ourselves are endless, but they all have one thing in common: they originate from our woundedness. When we are wounded, we will go to any extreme to protect ourselves, even if it means lying. 

But what if we were to choose to examine more closely, our offender? Were they purposefully malicious? Do they have a pattern of offending others? Was their offensive action tied to something else going on in their lives? Should I take what happened or what was said personally or objectively? 

Not everything that happens to us is meant to be taken as an offense. Not everyone is a malicious character with a goal of making our lives miserable. If we were to keep these two simple ideas in mind then we’d be ready, willing and able to forgive our next offender. 

Forgiveness is a free choice with a plethora of long lasting benefits. First of all, it releases us from the bitterness we hold against someone for their inability to pay off a debt they never knew they owed us. We may be waiting for them to say that they are sorry, but they can’t see what they’ve done wrong. Letting them off the hook, helps us to move on with life. 

Forgiveness gives us empathy and compassion, softening and smoothing out our rough edges. We become more affable and welcoming to others who need someone to understand them. 

With forgiveness, our perspective alters. We can begin to see how and why others feel the way they do. 

Knowing that we may be offended on any given day by someone should not throw us off  course. Instead our knowledge about forgiveness can prepare us to let others off the hook and give us freedom from resenting them. 

Why bother being ready to forgive? It is worth being ready to forgive because forgiveness is the remedy that, when applied to our offenders, keeps us free from resentment and bitterness.