Handling Disappointment

There I was, minding my own business, doing what I normally do the second week of summer. As I am a public school teacher, I was doing teacher stuff : planning for next year, reading material pertinent to my teaching assignment, thinking deep thoughts about how to improve attendance. We teachers are never really off for the summer, we just let go of one group of kids and spend the summer planning for the next group. I had heard wonderful things about the group coming up and visualized the amazing learning activities that would be going on in my classroom next year.

The phone rang. It was my principal. She reminded me that at the last faculty meeting she told us she may make some changes over the summer. “Do you remember ?”

“Umm, yes… ” (Gasp. Oh, no! What is she doing? Surely she is not going to change MY teaching assignment! I’ve been doing this for a long time! I love what I do!)

“Well, I thought about you teaching Language Arts at a different grade level. I’m having you and Ms. XYZ swap teaching assignments. She will loop up with her students and you will drop in and teach that grade. Same subject area, different grade. What do you think?”

The tantrum-throwing little girl in me was screaming, “No, I do not want to do that! Why can’t you just leave me where I am? I’m happy and comfortable. Besides, I’ve already made big plans for next year.” But the fully-grown professional woman in me stifled the brat and said, “I trust your judgment. You know what is best for our school. I’ll do whatever you want me to.”

“I appreciate that. Come in sometime soon. We’ll sit down and discuss the details, okay? You’ll be great in that grade level. Matter of fact, you could teach any grade level here. I have that much confidence in your abilities.”

“Thank you.”

“See you then.”

“Okay, bye.” I hung up and cried like a baby.

In the midst of the pity party that followed, I began to pray. Well, whine to God would be more accurate. “God, why is this happening? Was I such a failure as an eighth grade teacher? Why didn’t she just tell me what I need to work on? I didn’t ask for a move. Did Ms. XYZ? Why should she get what she wants?” At this point, negative thoughts were pummeling any positive reasoning that tried to intervene. I felt like a total failure. (BTW, Ms. XYZ and the principal are good friends of mine and didn’t deserve those negative thoughts.)

A few days later, while trudging through my daily chores, still depressed over the phone call, I stopped in the kitchen, poured a glass of 100% grape juice (good for you when you are stressed) and went out onto the back porch. My negativity came right along, dragging behind me like a five-foot-seven string of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. Plopping down into the cushioned porch chair, I continued to wallow. All of the planning I had done – out the window. Are the students I will have mature enough for the way I run my classroom? Definitely have to change the rigor. I have to change everything. Everything.

A wave of “I’m a failure; why else would she change me” hit me again and the tears fell. I closed my eyes. “Lord, help me. I kind of feel like Joseph when he was sent to prison. He didn’t do anything wrong, but yet he had to go to prison. Everybody I work with is going to look at me and ask why she changed my assignment. They are going to know I failed. I don’t even want to face them.”

PRIDE. Big bold letters flashed in my mind. (I’m a visual learner.) I agreed. And repented. Humble Pie is good for me, but I don’t like the taste of it. “Help me to accept this assignment, even though it’s a disappointment.”

DISAPPOINTMENT. Again, big bold letters. “Yes, Sir. That describes my state of mind right now.”

I watched as a hand separated the letters, moving the DIS to the left. My Counselor said, “Drop the S. Drop all the negative Stuff you’ve been thinking, all the lies you’ve believed about yourself since she called.”

“Gladly.” I watched the S swirl down and out of sight.

“Add VINE, because you are going to grow through this experience and reach some you would not have otherwise. If you will stay in the Vine, you will have fruit, good fruit.”

That excited me. DI + VINE. Right there on the stage in my mind were the words DIVINE APPOINTMENT.

Jaw drop. Worship. Tears of joy. Grateful, thankful heart.

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5 thoughts on “Handling Disappointment

  1. Loved your story and I’m sure it will resonate with others. All of us are disappointed one time or another. I also totally agree with the idea of changing out thoughts and the things we tell ourselves. Liked your counselors substitution for disappointment, divine appointment. When I was a baby Christian I once read Disappointment – His appointment. And that helped. At least until I started listening to the lies. They feel so true sometimes, don’t they?

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    1. Thank you for your comments. The lies still try to attack me. My students’ state test scores were about the state average. I am used to them being above the state average, so naturally I already felt like a failure. Then the phone call… You can imagine. I do believe this move is a positive one, and I refuse to think otherwise. 🙂

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      1. I love that you’ve decided to think positively about it. I do that as well. We do have that choice. Sometimes we have no choice over the circumstances in our lives, but we always have a choice about our response to them.

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  2. No doubt the way we look at things determines how we handle the circumstances God has put before us. I have watched you for 10 years & know that you are a committed & loving teacher to those students that are placed in your class. You will do well wherever you are placed – God’s blessing on your upcoming school year.

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