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Why do I get up in the morning?

Sometimes, I think about those words when I’m getting ready to go to work. That question’s easy to answer when things are going well.

I’m a teacher. I have moments where it seems like things work (I love it when a plan comes together!) I’m engaged and the students are engaged and everything is cookies, cupcakes and ice cream.

Then, there are the other days. Oh, you know those days. It’s the “your sibling just finished the last of your favorite cereal before you had a chance to eat” kind of day. Lesson plans fall apart. The full moon arrives and everything gets crazy. Someone started a fight in the hall and now all students are bouncing off the walls because of it. On those days, I feel like I’m drawing a line in the sand and becoming the last line of defense in the face of chaos. It’s not my best days.

And, what happens at school doesn’t stay at school when I leave. I drive home in my mood. I talk to other people about my mood. I find myself doing a lot more complaining than holding on to the good things that happened in that day. I toss and turn at night thinking about what could be different.

In the back of my mind, I’m wrestling with that question, “Why do I get up in the morning?”

I would like to think I get up in the morning because I’ve bought into the idea that there is a higher purpose in what I’m doing. God is in it and it is a calling. My job is to love students that sometimes don’t know how to accept that someone else cares about their lives. And, I have particular students who need someone who is willing to listen. I do that. I would also like to think that I’ve been in a position to help students who need it.

It’s just doesn’t feel like that on some days. There is so much unpredictability in teaching a group of students. Some days, I’m not at my best and they aren’t at their best and it is a struggle to get anywhere together.

So, I ask the question, “Why do I get up in the morning?”

I’ll be the first to admit that this year has been difficult. I feel stretched thin and stressed and struggling to hold on. There have been some days where I made it to lunch and, honestly, wondered whether I could make it through the afternoon.

Yet, I ask the question, “Why do I get up in the morning? Honestly, the problem is not my answer. The problem is the question I’m asking. It’s about me and it loses sight of what is bigger than me. When I put the focus on me, the answer is driven by roller coaster of emotions in a particular moment of time.

Thinking about the question this way takes me back to a book you may have read. Rick Warren’s popular devotional book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” opens with a stinging statement: “It’s not about me.” It sounds great on paper but it is tough to live out.

At times, I think God reaches into my situation and gives me a nudge to see the problem with my question. I was having a tough day, recently, and I was reading through an assignment I gave my students on “thank you letters.” Three students chose to write their thank you notes to me because of the way I listen and teach. God 3, Me 0.

I follow that up with notes I have received from parents for the expectations I have for their children. One even used a phrase that said, “You have been so incredibly patient with (my child). ” God 5, Me 0.

The truth is that the score is much higher than that. God will always win when it comes to the question. And, if I am really honest, I know that I’m really asking the wrong question.

In fact, I don’t think it’s a question at all. What I really need to think is, “You know your purpose. Get up and do it.”

And that changes how I’m going to begin this new week of school.