We are deep in the thick of a COVID-19 world. And I don’t know about you, but my Facebook feed, the blogs I follow, and just about every other email that has arrived is pinging me on new ways to teach, how to communicate with parents in the midst of the chaos, and how to stay safe and sane myself.
All of this is important, and I am very grateful for the many posts that have helped me get my thoughts together when I’ve been completely overwhelmed. But this is not a post about teaching online, the “new” world we live in, or how to stay sane. Today (which happens to be a Saturday, in case you’ve lost track), I want to encourage you. Because we’re all feeling the weight of the unknown, and I want to remind you that you really do matter. You matter to the people in your own home, the elderly neighbor across the street, and to your students and families who are sorting through the chaos.
The past couple of weeks have been an unexpected twist for me and my family (not even including the craziness of what is going on across our country and the world right now). Within one week my grandma had two strokes and then passed. And I tell you this not for a pity party (although I can assure you, I am grieving). But I tell you this because I had five days of sitting in a hospital with my family that was invaluable. We were able to weep together over what we were losing, rejoice together over what my grandma would be gaining in Heaven, and spend those last few sweet moments of her life together. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world.
And among all of the shared memories and visitors and phone calls, I actually had some time to think. My grandmother was not a musician, but she lived her life very well. She loved well, and I am amazingly privileged to have known that love so intimately! As I was thinking about the legacy she has left, I realized that even though she is not a musician, there are several things that we can learn from a life well-lived and apply to our teaching. So bear with me … they may be somewhat cliché, but nonetheless I think we all could use the reminders.
~ Be intentional. You never know how many lives you can touch.
As we sat in the hospital the visitors flowed. And what happened as we all sat around Grandma’s bedside and shared how she had touched us was amazing. I got to hear stories from her church family, her neighbors, her siblings, and even the people she and grandpa had invited to live in the basement to get them through tough times. My grandma was one of the most intentional people I knew. She had the ability to make a stranger instantly feel like a friend.
Today? We have the opportunity to be intentional. First of all with our students. Our lives are being turned upside down, but please remember, so are theirs! The personal email in the midst of a sea of impersonal newsletters, the smile over Facetime as they show you part of their lives, and taking time to remember how they’ve expressed their feelings in recent weeks goes a long way. If we seek to live intentional lives – including in our studios, we have the power to impact more lives than we may ever realize.
~ Keep your priorities straight.
Grandma loved and cultivated her relationship with God first. From that relationship, love flowed from her heart towards my grandpa and their family. She spoke about him as her greatest earthly treasure! She then made sure to love everyone else in her path (remember, she was intentional!). And everyone who knew her knew that these were the priorities of her life.
I realize that not all of you readers may have the same priorities. But I beg you to take some soul-searching time to sit down and map out what your priorities are and what order they come in. This will clean up a whole lot of confusion in your life. And will also give you the freedom to teach well! If you order your life and then stick with it, teaching will not feel like a burden. And your students will know that they are important to you – maybe not because they are the most important, but rather because you’ve chosen to live well and put everything in its place. The world works much smoother when there is order … as we’ve seen the past few weeks as disorder has ensued.
~ Live life to the fullest, and don’t worry so much about what others think in the process.
My grandma had this down. She was adventurous and never shied away from fun. She had some unique health needs as she got older, and still managed to live well (during the holidays she cooked, played cards, ping pong, and went bowling left-handed due to her right fingers being crippled!). She didn’t care what others thought … mostly because her priorities were straight!
We too have the chance to live life to the fullest. If my students know that I am there for them, I am trying new things (just as they are!), and I’m not ashamed to be me, we are setting an example that can impact them forever! I don’t want to look back at this strange time of self-quarantine, online-only lessons, and toilet paper crisis and say it was wasted. I have the opportunity, right here and now, to live a little inside the walls of my house. To reach out to my students and be a constant amidst the chaos, and to be calm even when fears try to sway me. This makes a tremendous impact on our students and their families!
~ Finally … live for something greater than yourself!
My grandma would say she was living her life for God’s glory. She would say this world is not her home… and eternity in God’s presence was her goal. And she has accomplished it. She wasn’t ashamed of what she believed. I knew that, but also had it reinforced by those that came into that hospital room to relive the memories. She looked to make a difference in the lives of people who would outlive her. I am a living example of this. And her impact on me and my life will NEVER be forgotten.
We have the opportunity to impact lives that will likely see years we never will. If I choose to invest in just one student, and then they turn around and impact one person, and that person goes out and impacts another. Suddenly taking the time to invest in one person doesn’t seem like such a small thing. And as teachers, we usually have a whole lot more than just one student that comes through our doors (or our iPad screens…).
In this season of what-ifs and immense uncertainty, we have the opportunity to look outside of ourselves and make a difference. Music is powerful. And it can bring immense comfort when this world needs it most. In the past few weeks, I’ve had a beautiful opportunity to see what it looks like when a life is well lived. My hope for you, and for myself, is that we will choose today to live life well.
With much love,