First Day, Second Day
Perhaps you remember the reaction of your child (or yourself!) after your first full day of school. It might not have been a pretty sight. Most youngsters start their first day of school career full of pep, vigor, and high hopes. I remember feeling like I was big stuff when I caught the bus for the first day of my post-kindergarten life.
A few parents have been insightful enough to take both first- AND second-day of school photos. The contrast is stunning.
The first-day pictures show straight posture and big smiles. The second-day photos are pure exhaustion — all slump and frown.
Few kids are truly ready to martial the mental, physical, and emotional energies that it takes to make it through an eight-hour day of school. It’s a process of growth, endurance, stretching, and change that happens over time. For some of us it takes weeks, months, or even years to truly find the groove.
When I think of my pre-COVID self, I resembled a bright, sunny-faced soon-to-be first grader. I thought I had come to a solid adult understanding of how the world works and was pretty familiar with the ups and downs, ins and outs of how the church year and pastoral life flowed.
Today, I resemble the kids in the second day of school photos. Beleaguered, bewildered, wondering if this new world is here to stay. It’s not just COVID. The world is literally changing, and we can feel it quaking beneath our feet. I’m disciplining myself to more deeply appreciate what doesn’t change in the midst of the shaking: God, Love, Jesus, and the unshakeable, eternal quality of belonging to him.
Many parents report that, as their young ones get acclimated to all-day school, their children’s home behavior can remain erratic even while their in-school attitudes and behaviors steadily improve. We learn early on as kids that we need to treat people well at school if we want to make friends and be well-liked. Children know they can save their best energy for school and then collapse at home because they know their families will love, accept, and put up with them anyway. That’s what love does!
If you have found yourself feeling out of sorts these days around your family, your beloved coworkers, or your church family, do not despair! I want to suggest to you that perhaps it’s those environments where we feel the most loved and well-connected where we are free to vent our frustrations and release some of the burdens that this broken world has put on us recently. If that describes you — and I know it does me — take heart!
Let’s continue to be extra gentle and understanding with one another these days. So much is in the process of changing. But what is most important assuredly does not. As the Best Book puts it, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Peace in the Mean Time,