Rediscovering the Basics

My new placement for student teaching is in a middle school. This has definitely been a change of pace in a more energetic, need-to-be-engaged-all-the-time kind of way. Middle school students are in such a unique stage of development and they are all at different places in that process, making the classroom setting with 28 of them a little chaotic. They’re awkward and unsure and there’s so much tension while they’re just beginning to grow up and get a taste of independence.

Being on the teacher side of things in this place has been an interesting experience. I forgot how much of the basics we learned in middle school, not only academically but also socially. We needed the constant reminders to stay quiet when the teacher paused and to calm down when we forgot a pencil or a paper in our locker because it wasn’t the end of the world.

But academically, a lot of the basics are taught and reiterated in middle school, especially in the English classroom. Students are first taught how to write a thesis statement, how to set up a five-paragraph essay, how to cite textual evidence with their answers, and how to write formally in a word document. Without these skills, it’s difficult for students to succeed in other classes at higher levels. They must be mastered in order for the student to move on.

While teaching, I’ve had to relearn the basics in order to teach my students. This is harder than I anticipated because I’ve realized through this process how much I have forgotten. I’ve been cranking out papers almost weekly in college, but often forget what a predicate is. I’ve been writing thesis statements since middle school but sometimes have to go back and learn exactly what one is and why exactly we need to use them.

By rediscovering the basics and especially the purposes of the basic components of writing and reading, I’ve been able to improve my own writing and reading abilities. This, in turn, allows me to transfer that knowledge more effectively to my students.

I’ve found the necessity of remembering the basics not only in my teaching experience, but even more so in my faith.

Throughout my life, I’ve been to hundreds of church services and participated in hundreds of communion services. I’ve heard the basics of the gospel and of grace and of Jesus’ love over and over and over. But as I’ve wrestled in my faith recently, as I’ve been trying so hard to make everything perfect and purposeful, I’ve found peace and fulfillment in being reminded of and truly dwelling in the basic components of the life I choose to live.

I’m being reminded that we are so, incredibly loved.

That Jesus died for us.

That His mercies are new every morning.

That Jesus is strong enough to carry our burdens.

That we weren’t created to save anyone.

That we were created to love and to forgive.

That pride destroys.

That God wants us back, all the time.

But most importantly, that our God is big and perfect and glorious and good.

I feel like we make Christianity so complicated. And I don’t want to diminish the depth of it, but I feel that by becoming so incredibly engrossed in rules and trying to do it “right” we forget about the basic principles we are called to live in.

Right now, in these moments, my faith looks like remembering the basics because as a human, I often forget them in the complexities I create in my mind.

Right now, my faith looks like getting up every morning, opening my Bible while I’m half asleep in my dimly lit dining room, and relearning that I am loved by a really good God, that His mercies are new every morning, and that this life isn’t about me.

These rediscoveries are changing the way I live and how I see the world. I’m slowly unlearning the concept of constantly having to do and to prove and to try so hard to be enough and to be worthy because I’m finding in these truths that to simply be is enough.

God is good and the Gospel is simple, but we need to start remembering why we’re choosing to live this way and dwell in the basic truths God promises because they are enough.

Photo Credit: Kayleigh Sisson

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