Friday, March 10, 2017

The Gifts We Are Given

A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

Dear Readers,

I have always loved the saying that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I think of them as gifts that are presented when the time is right. 

There have been situations I have experienced this past week, not only in my own life, but those of my students as well that have caused me to pause and reflect on why people have come into and gone out of my life.

Do people come into our lives for a reason? Season? Or lifetime?


I firmly believe that people come into our lives for a reason. It may be just a moment in time, perhaps a day, week or even hours. We all have these people. Maybe it is someone you sat next to on an airplane and made a connection with through polite conversation. Maybe it is the presenter at a conference that had an impact on your educational philosophy. Perhaps it is someone who reached out to you during a difficult time and made you realize things were going to be okay. 

I have had many of these types of individuals in my life. People who enter and leave in what seems a moment's notice. However the impact they leave is significant and profound. 

After my dad passed away, it was extremely difficult to function in a world that was turned upside down. I will never forget an act of kindness from a colleague. I received a beautiful card in my mailbox, saying that this person had lost a father as well and if I ever wanted to talk this person would be willing to. After a little while had passed and I was ready, I e-mailed this person and we decided to meet after school. I was waiting in my classroom and this individual came in, shut the door and said, "I wondered when I would be hearing from you." It is not someone I developed a friendship with nor do we have contact anymore. However, I will never forget that conversation and willingness to sit down with me and let me know I was not alone. It meant the world to me. 


People who come into our lives for a season serve a different role. They are there to help us a little bit longer. Perhaps months or years. Perhaps it is the person you meet while taking grad classes, but lose touch with when the program is finished. Maybe it's the person you room with in college, but life takes you on your separate journeys after graduation. Or maybe it's the person who helps you through an illness.

I have also had many of these individuals in my life. It feels like people who enter our lives at the beginning of something and then when it seems like we are alright, their job is finished, our lives move in different directions.

When I lost my dad to suicide, I thought nobody in the world would understand what I was going through. The pain, grief, anger, questions, etc. The emotions were so overwhelming at times I could not breathe. By chance, I met someone who was going through almost the same exact thing I was. That person had also lost a family member, just two days prior to my dad's passing. Same month, same year, same week. We were always in the same place at the same time. Especially the anniversaries. It was so comforting to have someone who knew exactly how I felt and that I could speak openly and freely with. Unfortunately, that person moved away, as life took us in different directions. I will always be thankful for the impact that person had on my life in coping with such a traumatic loss.


Then there are the people who come into our lives to stay. Whether it be parents, spouses, siblings, family members, friends, children, etc. They are the constants in our lives. The people who stick by us through thick and thin, happy and sad times. They love us unconditionally and we trust them. We confide in them, we respect them, we treat them like gold. The people we never want to lose and are devastated if we do.

My life has been filled with happy moments, but also very sad moments. At times, it feels as though I have lived several lifetimes. It seems as I have taken my journey, there are always people in the right place at the right time to help me overcome any obstacles I may face. I am blessed that every time I need someone, he/she suddenly appears. However, as I look back over my life, am sometimes astonished that people seem to come and go, but never stay.

As a result, when someone new enters my life, I always expect we will part ways at some point. I never really form attachments or rely too heavily on others. In my experience, they will leave at some point. Whether it be their choice, my choice or life in general.


In thinking about my own life and experiences, it made me consider the lives of my students. If our students live in environments where people care, are reliable and they feel safe, they will probably form deeper connections and relationships. On the other hand, if our students have a life of people coming and going, lack of consistency, abandonment, is there any wonder they have difficulty trusting and  building bonds with others?

It is natural instinct to want to protect ourselves. For those of us who have been hurt many times or do not feel safe with others, we often protect ourselves (such as pushing people away) before we give that control to someone else. Students who lash out, are more reactive than proactive and who seem distant, may actually be in survival mode. Do we take the time to get to know our students, really know them, before making assumptions about them?

My Wish......

My wish is for you and your students to all find those people who you are lucky enough to know for a reason, season or lifetime.