As I think about my time as an educator, I realize that I am as grateful for the trials and tribulations, as I am for the successes and victories because the bad things helped prepare me for the good ones.  The tough times taught me lessons that would later open the door for great opportunities.  And, without my struggles, I would not have been as prepared as when an opportunity presented itself.  I believe it is through dealing with difficult situations, that we can build the most substantial relationships, learn the most about ourselves and others, and find our most significant opportunities. 

As I think about this idea, I am reminded of a scene in the movie Evan Almighty. In the film, Evan (Steve Carell), an up-and-coming Congressman, is asked by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an Ark in modern time, much like Noah was asked in biblical times.  Evan has faith and takes on the task even though it causes much distress to his family.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Evan’s wife runs into God in a restaurant, and he provides some fantastic insight. 

Here is the movie quote:

 “Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

What a powerful idea and message. So, how does this connect to us right now? As we focus on the year in front of us, we need to plan, strategize, and develop new ideas. But, the attitude we bring to these processes is critical. We must keep our focus on looking for the ways we can have the most impact on our students. We must be open to all opportunities and view every interaction as another chance to impact our students. I am sure there will be obvious opportunities in times that are going well when we can give someone the right push at the right time. Those will be the easy ones. But, I believe to live up to the possibilities of this school year; indeed, we need to focus on trying to impact our students when times are tough, or relationships are complicated. We have to be strong enough to work diligently to inspire those who do not want to be inspired.

As we go throughout this year, if we only look for opportunities during the “good” times, will we inspire our students and those around us? Maybe. But, if we find ways to show unconditional gratitude regardless of our circumstance, have a great attitude, treat people well, and find opportunities in the struggles, we will truly find ways to change lives and put our mission into motion.

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