I heard the conductor of our local orchestra use this phrase to promote an upcoming season: Expect the Unexpected. He was talking about concert pieces, of course. But I‘ve taken it to heart in terms of substitute teaching, and really, my overall mindset.
Flexibility is definitely one of the skills I’ve had to learn as a sub. And that trait is not part of my natural gift mix. I like being able to prepare in advance for an upcoming situation – that gives me a sense of confidence that I can handle whatever happens.
Luckily, my first couple of assignments matched up pretty well to what I imagined. But then I ventured into doing PPT days. A PPT is basically a teacher/parent meeting during the school day that lasts between 20 minutes and an hour. What that means for me is that I travel from room, going in “cold”. I have no idea of what activity or subject the class might be doing when I walk in. As you can imagine, I found that set-up nerve wracking at first. Every time I approached a new door my anxiety would spike.
The thing that finally helped my stress levels was to embrace the not knowing. Because the truth is that no matter how much prep I do, I can’t predict what will happen once I step into a school. I’m truly at their disposal. The only real way for me to get ready is to decide to stay focused on the present moment. Then I can respond effectively to any concern or need.
Sounds like a metaphor for life, doesn’t it? I sure think so. And the lesson has been as challenging to learn in my daily life as it’s been in subbing. Being a list maker and a planner, I can find my security in organization if I’m not careful. But that kind of security is fleeting.
Proverbs 3:26 says, “For the Lord shall be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.” What a great reminder for me of what to lean on and where my security lies. I have no control, but God does. I don’t know what will happen once any given day, but He’s already seen and prepared for everything.
So I’ll expect the unexpected from life. But I can expect God to walk with me through it all.