This last week I returned from almost two solid weeks of travel and met the stark reality that summer must come to an end. I attempted to get back into the swing of things by starting to set up my classroom. Turning the space of a cookie cutter classroom into a magical safe inviting place for students to learn brings me immense joy. It sparks my creativity while helping to ease me back into the reality of a new school year.
However, this last week in my classroom felt different.
I spent the majority of the week arranging furniture. I hung bulletin boards, and then re-hung them because I can never hang anything straight, and then just left things crooked in hopes no one will say anything. I organized stations and went through all the boxes I haphazardly packed in a rush in May. And yet by the weekend I found myself wondering if I had just moved all of my exploding piles from one place to another with no real progress made.
I knew going into this school year would be hard and different. I face a lot of changes at my school site. I committed to some major things that will require my time. I find myself in a role that at times feels far beyond me. And to top it all off, knowing this will be my swan song year at the school site that I grew to love over the last nine years inundates me with a lot of mixed emotions.
All this to say, the joy of setting up my room seemed lost as it swirled to the wayside amidst everything else. In need of some inspiration I turned to one of my favorite movies I always forget to watch, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium tells the story of a magical toy store as it undergoes some major changes. In a quirky, clever, and fantastical way this story deals with themes of death, unmet potential, and friendship all while avoiding most of the cliches and annoying jokes present in children’s film. There’s no Let it Go here people. Although Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of Mr. Magorium does teeter on annoying at times.
I cannot tell the rest of my story without telling the story of this movie. This is your warning.
What struck me most as I re-watched this last night was the character of Molly Mahoney, the loyal cashier and child prodigy pianist who finds herself stuck in life and unable to complete writing her first concerto. She was supposed to go places and do things that she can’t seem to get to. She trusts the magic of the toy store, but not herself.
As the story goes on, it is clear that Mr. Magorium is leaving the store and will pass it on to Molly. Molly finds herself met with circumstances and expectations she does not believe she can face.
I felt that as I moved things around in my classroom. We feel like Molly in different seasons of life. Y’all, this is normal and it is ok to feel like this. We just can’t stay there. But by all means, feel it.
I know who I am in Christ, but at times I forget. I get caught up in the task of things and do not see the purpose. If we find ourselves caught in the process of checking things off of lists, stop. Stop and remember who you are in Christ. We are not called to get things done. We are called to Christ. He will get what needs to be done through us if we trust and rest in Him. We will have to act, but not on our own accord. This is your permission to rest in Him before acting.
“What Mahoney needed was the opportunity to prove to herself she was something more than she believed. And that opportunity was about to begin.” -Eric
In the movie Molly receives a wooden block from Mr. Magorium and he tells her, “Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.” Molly doesn’t get it. But in time she comes to trust herself and realizes that the magic of the store was always in her. The block then helps unleash Molly’s full potential bringing the story to a whimsical crescendo.
So there may be some cliches in the story, but still watch it. It could be much worse.
Looking at this school year feels a little bit like someone bequeathed me with a bunch of wooden blocks and no action plan for how to make any of this work, let alone all of it. Life feels overwhelming and as if I will be treading water for the next nine months. You might find yourself in a similar situation.
But just like Molly, we will come to a point where we must decide. Will we run and settle or will we press into Christ and trust the wooden block?
“I’m not asking that you be happy, but that you turn the page and keep reading”
In the unique story of each of our lives we come to moments where we want to put our own book down and start over. Scrap everything and run. There are times for new beginnings, but sometimes all it takes is us turning the page and continuing to read.
God authors the most incredible stories with each of our lives. We just need to trust Him to do so. The greatest stories are filled with tension and moments where it seems bleak and dark. But in those chapters we see the depth of our own character. In those moments, we are fortified in Christ and who He calls us to be.
If the chapter of your story comes to the part where the wooden blocks seem stacked against you and you do not know where to start, rest in the Lord. Trust in who He made you to be. Let Him fortify you and your character as He unfurls the next great plot twist of the story He is authoring with your life.
Do not lose heart.
Tomorrow morning I will return to my classroom and again start to tackle moving all those piles to yet another place. But I will do so this time knowing I do not have to know with laser point exactness what this year looks like, God knows. He knows what juggling all of these unknowns will look like from day to day. He placed me in the exact place He wants me in the exact roles He plotted out for me. He placed you in the exact place He wants you in the exact roles He plotted out for you.
This year will no doubt look far from Pintrest perfect, and I would bet a lot of money on me messing up more than once. But I know my God and I know who He has made me to be.
I know without a doubt this year will be a year where I am continually strengthened and fortified in Christ. I know without a doubt God will write a story more beautiful and perfect than any story I could ever fathom. I know without a doubt in the midst of it all I will choose to rest in Him. I know without a doubt God will show Himself immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. I know without a doubt this year will be a year where God’s name is glorified above all else. I rest in knowing truth, and that is my greatest joy as I now eagerly anticipate and pray over what is to come.