Parents and teachers must learn to let go in order to move forward, counsels seasoned headteacher Clare Campbell.
Let’s face it, if we work with children, if we have children of our own, or if as teachers we feel the daily weight of being in loco parentis, we all know what it feels like to be overburdened. To be an adult in 2022 is hard work! To get up and use your God-given gifts to nurture and support children day after day, term after term, year after year, is exhausting.
Some days are harder than others and can make us question ourselves, our abilities and even our faith. Our past can haunt us – mistakes we made, opportunities we let slip, what if …? And likewise, hardened behaviour patterns that are throwbacks to our own childhood and school days can be difficult to change or undo.
Letting go of the past – at one level, school workers can be very adept at this – is essential to us. If we didn’t let go of those beautiful children who have been entrusted to our care for a whole year in our primary schools, we would be heartbroken every summer when we have to say goodbye. As a teacher for 23 years and a headteacher for 13 of those years, I know that some children may be easier to say goodbye to than others! But joking apart, even the most difficult children leave an indelible mark on our hearts as we do on theirs.
We also have to ‘let go’ on a daily basis. How many times in our work with children have we had to let go and start the next lesson, the next day, the next term, afresh? I have lost count of the amount of times I say to the children, “Tomorrow is a new day.” Or, “Let’s start afresh tomorrow.” We can’t waste our time either basking in success or brooding over what we got wrong – just move on.
If we didn’t ‘let go’ when a child’s behaviour is inappropriate, unacceptable or downright disrespectful at times, the job would be impossible.
This poem by Wallace Stegner sums up how I as a teacher feel about starting each school year anew:
That Old September Feeling
That old September feeling
Left over from school days
Of summer passing
Holidays nearly done
Obligations, gathering books and
Footballs in the air
Another turned page
There was something of a jubilee
In that annual Autumnal beginning
As if last year’s mistakes
Had been wiped clean
By the Summer
One of the most humbling things about our job is that we get to watch children grow, take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. A good teacher accepts all children as they are. When their behaviour is poor, we may be irritated or disappointed by that behaviour, but never by the child. Be the kind of teacher who is:
gives anyway and
In the big issues of life, Christians often look for guidance to the scriptures, and there, time and time again, Jesus reminds us, “Do not be afraid” and urges us to trust in God the Father. There is such comfort in the Word of God. This is one of my favourite pieces of scripture that really resonates with me. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you”. Isaiah 66:13
Repeatedly, over and over, the scriptures which have nourished the great monotheistic religions for thousands of years, reminds us to trust in God, and with this trust, to let go of our fears: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Proverbs 3:5
When researching this article I came across this quote, the author is unknown, but I am grateful to them for their wisdom, the wisdom of letting go…
Let go of…
It is through this ‘letting go’ of what holds us back that we can begin to trust more. If we leave this negativity behind, we can focus on our future.
As author Steve Maraboli eloquently puts it, sometimes in order to move forward, you have to let go, let go of the past, let go of bad situations, and learn to forgive yourself. Forgiveness and mercy are central to the Christian faith and should be central to the life of all educators and parents.
We show mercy to our children on a daily basis, we forgive things, forget them and move on, but ask yourself: are you as gentle and forgiving with yourself as you are with the children you teach? If not, shouldn’t you be?
My challenge to you is to ask yourself, “Could my heart be as forgiving to myself as it is to others?”
When something isn’t right for you, your soul rejects it and tries to warn you in many different ways. Pay attention to how things make you feel and what emotions they bring up in you. If something is not right for you, let it go.
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