Invest in Borrowed Spaces

My time student teaching at my first school ends next week and as I prepare for yet another transition, I’m thinking about how deeply these eight weeks have impacted me. I’m thinking about my kids and how much of an impression they’ve left on me, how I’ve learned from them, and the privilege I’ve had to be able to step into their lives for limited moments and teach them some things I’ve become passionate about myself—the process of analyzing and crafting the written word.

In my reflections, I’ve had to step back and remind myself that this classroom isn’t mine, that these students aren’t mine. I simply borrowed them from my cooperating teacher for these nine weeks. And as hard as this is to grasp, especially in the depth of my time full time teaching, I’m learning to be ok with this, to come to terms that these students were only meant to be mine for a bracketed amount of time.

I’ve spent a majority of my hours with these people, these 157 freshman, during the past 63 days. I’ve seen them transform from skittish and quiet the first few weeks to boisterous and overly chatty as they’ve adapted to their new space in high school. It’s strange to think that I will just walk away next Friday after having invested so much of my time and my efforts and myself into working with them.

But through this process, through my short time with these people who have taken up so much of my time and heart and mind, I’ve learned that it’s ok to invest deeply in borrowed spaces.

In fact, I’ve learned that it’s actually necessary to invest deeply in them, because if we spend time counting down the days until they are over we forgo experiencing the love and acceptance and life that burst within the boundaries of those times.

I think back to two other significant borrowed spaces I’ve experienced in the past few years: Montana and Ethiopia. I spent three months in one place, one month in the other. I knew the beginnings and ends to these experiences before I left, and I think my perception of the limited time I would be spending there hindered me from delving in as deeply as I knew I was capable of doing.

I let time dictate the value I found in these places rather than letting the reality of my presence dictate the value these places have in my heart. I let the idea of a limited time and a borrowed space constrain my ability to passionately and wholeheartedly experience those moments in those beautiful places.

I feared the connections and loss of connections and I feared what I was leaving behind when I traveled to those places. I became homesick for the comfortable, for what I knew. And although I think a deep love of home is beautiful, I let the overwhelming longing for what I left behind hinder my willingness to find home in these new places.

But in the past eight weeks I’ve experienced the joy and energy gained from fully investing in this temporary thing. I know when I walk out those doors next Friday I will mourn the loss of my time with the students who became mine for a while, but I’ll also be able to carry them with me, store them deep in my heart and dwell in the lessons I learned from them.

From my time in this borrowed classroom I’ll be able to expand how I work with my future students, finding a little more sympathy for where they come from, a little more patience for their needs, a little more understanding when they forget.

I’m learning to value these limited experiences, even the ones I knew I didn’t fully invest in because of fear and constraints. In these reflections I’m discovering my deep love for these places, both in the physical spaces of the dry mountain air and hospitable cultures and through the beautiful people who caused me to expand my worldview and learn how to love a little more deeply. I value the time I spent in these places, carrying with me the moments that molded me to where I sit today.

You’ll find yourself in borrowed spaces from time to time. Please invest in them, giving Jesus your fears and not allowing time to constrain you from the beautiful reality of being present and making yourself at home. Be affected from those you encounter and take over the physical space, unpack your belongings and settle in. You belong there for those moments, as short as they may be, to teach and love, to learn and to be loved.

Picture Credit to my lovely housemate Kayleigh Sisson.

7 thoughts on “Invest in Borrowed Spaces

  1. That is so encouraging, that although you were going into your placement as a teacher you ended up the one being taught. I find it funny how God can flip situations around like that. Thanks for sharing Kelsey!

  2. Wow Kelsey. Deep wisdom here and beautifully said. Indeed, you have a gift with words! I intend to take time today pondering your insights! In truth, the call to “be present” and embracing the “borrowed spaces” is counter cultural as our North American consumer drive culture continually blares the siren to chase the “next thing”. So appreciate your voice reminding us there is another way!

  3. I am speechless, Kelsey. Your insights are awesome…for me and my generation. With your permission I’d like to share some of your comments in articles I write for our church newsletter. Your thoughts and observations are timely and timeless. Am so proud of the woman you are becoming!

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