As a teacher, it’s that time of year where life feels especially overwhelming. Paperwork. Deadlines. End of year assessments. A shortage of student supplies that were so abundant at the start of the year. Messy, crammed desks and book boxes. Dreaded state testing. Antsy kiddos very much ready for summer break. Tired teachers equally ready for said break! Most discouraging, though, is that sense of failure that my perfectionist self so readily experiences. I look back over the year and see all the flaws and holes in my teaching. I obsess about all the places where I wish I’d done better. I resolve to be more thorough in those areas next year. Although teaching brings such purpose and meaning to my life, it also causes me to be immensely hard on myself.
Recently, I got into a new phase (this happens regularly) where I was exploring the meaning of names. I learned a lot in the process. For example, be wary of naming your child “Cameron” as it means “crooked nose”. Also avoid the name “Calvin” since it means “bald one”. After chuckling at some of these meanings, I re-explored the meaning of my name. For years I’ve known that Hannah means “gracious”. However, I’ve always thought that meant that I am called to be one who is gracious to others. As I re-read the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1, I remembered how the barren Hannah deeply desired a son and God granted her heart’s desire. This wasn’t a story about Hannah working hard to be gracious to others. Rather it was a story of God extending grace to Hannah. In that moment, the Lord told me that a key piece of my identity is to be one who deeply knows God’s grace. He encouraged me that every time someone calls my name, it is a reminder that “God is gracious to you”.
This is what my soul needs most deeply. God’s grace. My identity is not rooted in striving to do better or be more. My identity is centered in who God is and how he sees me.
And His heart towards me is gracious.