Back-to-School Anxiety? By All Means, Pray!

Back-to-School Anxiety? By All Means, Pray!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 ESV).

At the conclusion of every school year, many teachers find themselves balancing a competing set of emotions:

  • A sense of pride after having accomplished a great deal over the past 40 weeks;
  • A tinge of sadness that this class will be moving on;
  • The anticipation of new growth opportunities;

And last, but not least …

  • SUMMER VACATION!!!!!!!!

Some teachers feel the need to bury that last bullet point because others outside of education might criticize them for getting so much “time off.” I say teachers shouldn’t apologize for the time off they’ve earned. Education is hard work, and a break that allows teachers the chance to relax, renew, regroup, and recharge is critical to maintaining success year after year.

But then it happens. It’s imperceptible at first, but little by little it builds until finally it becomes this powerfully undeniable reality. From the people who brought you “Sunday Night Dread,” here comes the summer blockbuster you’ve been ignoring…

BACK TO SCHOOL TIME IS HERE!!!!!!!!

One minute you were sipping your favorite beverage in an inflatable unicorn on a lake, the next you are cutting out laminated name cards and sticking them on desks. Summer reading turns to content reading and girls’ night at the winery relocates to the drive-thru for coffee which needs to move a little faster or I’m going to be late for the “Back-to-School Faculty Meeting.”

In fairness, not every teacher takes the start of the school year this hard, but most will admit that, while they’re truly excited about the upcoming school year, they will miss the slower pace that summer brings. But some of us were called to be teachers, and we can only do that if we take the break we were given and put it to good use in our classroom this year.

As we head into the start of this new school year, many teachers find themselves balancing another set of emotions:

  • A sense of purpose, knowing that they’re heading back to the job they love;
  • A tinge of sadness that vacation is ending;
  • The anticipation of creating a classroom community that will be exciting, safe, and filled with learning;

And last, but not least…

  • A touch of anxiety over getting back into the grind of long days—endless grading, parent concerns, and the many unknown challenges to come.

Many people would tell you that it’s okay; anxiety is normal. I guess that’s true, but I would also tell you that just because it’s common doesn’t mean that it’s necessary. Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 ESV).

As concerns weigh us down, we know that we have an effective way to respond to them. Prayer is valuable because it allows us to take our troubles to the Creator of all things. We are no longer left to worry by ourselves. We aren’t merely venting to a friend who can’t understand and is powerless to help. God knows you intimately. God loves you deeply. Christ lived on earth and shared in the experience of being human. Think for a moment about Jesus’ own reaction to the anxiety He felt about His coming crucifixion. He went to a quiet place and prayed, giving His anxiety to His own Father. That alone would be valuable, but God’s power isn’t limited to just listening.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 ESV).

God Himself will give you peace and the sure knowledge that your hearts and minds will be guarded from anything that the world and Satan can bring your way. Jesus has paid the price. By His death and resurrection, we have forgiveness of sins and the assurance of spending eternity in Heaven as a fully redeemed child of God.

So, as we face the anxieties of returning back to school, the dread of misbehaving students, upset parents, overzealous administrators, and unrelenting deadlines, may we always remember that God knows what we’re up against and wants to help us overcome. Jesus reminds us of this in the words of Matthew 11:2830: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

And then, by all means, feel free to sneak in at least one last trip to the beach!

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