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Get Some Rest

By Emma Bradley (ACE 29, San Jose)

Left to right: Grace Scartz, Audrey Banner, and Emma Bradley

Life in ACE is full. Moving to a brand new place to do a brand new job, where you are responsible for planning, delivering, and assessing lessons, creating positive relationships with students, balancing commitments to community, establishing routines, and keeping in contact with loved ones who may live across time zones - is, well, a lot.

And yet, this fullness is exactly what makes life in ACE so abundantly rich - the chance to live a life of love and to grow alongside fellow travelers on the journey. As educators, caring for the lives and development of the young people entrusted to our care requires much of us. In turn, it is our duty and responsibility to care for ourselves - and to let others care for us too.

Image of Matt Nguyen, Audrey Banner, and Grace Scartz sitting on blankets at a park in San JoseMy community members inspire me daily with their commitments to tending to the rhythms and routines of life that keep them steady. Doing life alongside them, I get an insider glimpse into these rhythms that keep them ticking - and they never cease to amaze me. Whether abiding religiously to a daily gym routine and post-workout smoothie, consistently maintaining a nightly 10 pm bedtime ("ok goodnight besties, it's time for bed"), or intentionally making time on the weekends to adventure to local farmers markets to catch up with family and friends from home, it is heartening be with people who lean into their full personhood - and who encourage me to do the same thing. The adventures we have enjoying our local Bay Area community and each other's company - from Golden Gate Bridge trips to Friday night pickleball to Sunday afternoon Panera coffee walks and weeknights baking "little treats" - give me the nourishment to enjoy and to do life well, and set that same example of caring for the whole person that I hope my own students would follow too.

One particular Teacher friend shows us the most excellent way to do this. Instead of grinding until my absolute breaking point and assuming being a Christ-like teacher looks like draining myself out of my own strength, I sense Jesus' gentle invitation to "Come away by yourselves with me to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31-33).

This interaction between Jesus and two of His earliest followers and friends anchors what this looks like for me:

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her'" (Luke 10:38-42).

Image of a Bible open on a desk with a purple cup in the backgroundAs a teacher, "the preparations that have to be made" can at times feel never-ending. Anyone else still need to finish and print the final touches of tomorrow's lesson plans, grade last week's tests, or do some long overdue classroom bookshelf re-organizing?

The daily tasks are important, but our primary responsibility is to love and serve the students in our care - and we will not be able to adequately pour into them the love and care they deserve if we do not create time and space to care for ourselves. Sometimes, the one thing that is needed is not to make one more tweak to the lesson for tomorrow, but simply to pause, take a step back, and "choose what is better."

For me, these times of rest look like stepping away from the tasks to be completed, whether on the weekends, in the evenings, or even the first 20 minutes of my prep period to spend time with Jesus meditating on Scripture, and enjoying the people He has given me to walk alongside on this journey (rose garden picnic, anyone?). I know when I am investing in people and activities that fill my cup, I am able to pour into my students with the authentic energy and care that they deserve, not scraping from an empty barrel.

Thankfully, we don't do this alone. We follow the example of a gracious and loving Savior who walked our human paths - as a Teacher - and invites us in every moment to lean upon His strength to do the work He has called us to do - which includes, just as it did for Him, times to rest and rejuvenate in the quiet place.