I believe the last two months can best be described as insane.
I signed up to teach more night classes, but I didn’t pay attention to the dates when I did so. The beginnings of some classes overlapped with ends of others, which meant there were a few weeks where I taught two to three classes on top of working a full time job.
During an eight-week stretch, I heard more “Can–you-cover-for-xyz-employee-my-grade’s-not fair-because-I-was-sick-oh-we-know-you’re-busy-but-would-you-take-this-project-my-last-instructor-was-nicer-than-you-can-you-squeeze-in-this-new-biz-thing-this-class-isn’t-even-in-my-major-I’m-going-to-my-academic-advisors” than I ever wanted to hear in my lifetime.
Yep. Insanity is the perfect description.
A friend who often teaches dual classes said I would feel better after I saw my paycheck. She was right, but the the good feeling lasted for about two minutes.
Most of the time, I was overwhelmed and tired. Add to that the fact that we’re once again a one-car family (a story for another day), and you’ve got a recipe for a nervous breakdown.
There was a phrase, however, that helped me whenever I was about to scream:
“Jesus, be a fence.”
I don’t think there’s a gospel singer out there that hasn’t done a rendition of this song. My favorite is by a group called the Meditation Singers. These ladies brought it.
The words were my battle cry. They populated my Facebook status and Twitter timeline whenever I felt frustration mounting. And on days when it was really rough, I took it farther:
“Jesus, could you throw in a moat?”
“How about an electric fence?”
“What about attack dogs?” (Not to be confused with guard dogs.) I’m certain Jesus wasn’t on board with this request, but I felt better after saying it.
In the beginning, I said the words whenever I wanted a fence to keep people from angering me. But over time, I learned I needed a fence to keep my anger from them. The phrase went from battle cry to mantra, encouraging me to deal with my frustrations rather than waiting for the breaking point.
I realized this during my first night with a high-strung group of students. After arguing with me about the terms of the syllabus, a student stormed out of class to contact her “prayer warriors.” Instead of telling the entire class to go to hell, I called for a break. When we returned, I asked them why they were so on edge. I listened, with fences down. I addressed their concerns calmly, and I didn’t change a thing in the syllabus. At the end of our five-week session, the prayer warrior told me how much she enjoyed the class.
The Lord’s standard-issue fence handled my nonsense without a spark of electricity or a snarling canine.
My “Jesus-be-a-fence” tweets are much less frequent now. Partly because I’m down to once class a month, but mostly because I’m learning day-by-day not to sweat the small stuff.