School started this week here in Texas. I’ve loved seeing my Facebook feed fill with all those sweet faces starting a new year at school. Some smiling, some obviously nervous and others clearly indignant to participate in this picture-taking ritual.
I wonder, though, what emotions are really swirling behind all those brave, smiling faces? What emotions are swirling behind OUR brave, smiling faces?
All these children facing big change this time of year. For some, just a new school year, maybe in a familiar school with familiar friends. Still, they will face new teachers, new subjects to learn, new expectations. Others may be starting in a new school, a classroom full of new faces, changes that may be difficult for them to face. Yet they each put on their brave face, turn their mouth into a smile and take steps (even if tentative, timid ones) toward the future, trying to hide the worry and fears, trying to keep the tears locked away until they get home.
This week, I watched one sprint out of the house, so excited to be back at school. With another, I felt his grip on my hand tighten as we searched for his cubby in a new classroom, his hand giving away the anxiety he’d hidden behind so much bravado.
And what about us? Are we any different? Maybe we’re not facing changes with the school year, but don’t we also put on that brave face and try to hide our real emotions? Don’t we also try to be so brave as we face difficult changes, the trials of our lives? Don’t we try to keep the tears locked away until we’re at home, alone?
As I prayed over my children this week starting new classes, I mostly wanted them to feel God’s presence with them. To know they are not alone as they step through this change, no matter how scary and lonely a new place can feel. We are never alone.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)
Be with all the students, teachers and parents as this new school year begins. You know the real emotions and fears hiding behind those brave, smiling faces. Give each one comfort and encouragement in the changes and challenges they face. Help them feel Your presence and know they are not alone. Help them to know You are always by their side, no matter what. Help us to know You more. Show us how to trust You to guide us through whatever we are facing. Amen!