This is our 6th year to celebrate Ugandan independence here, but the country celebrated 57 years. During our first 5 years of teaching here, I planned and organized many of the plans for our school celebration sometimes working with others. But this school year we have been trying to give our students more opportunities for leadership. Our students are all in one of the three leadership teams: 1-Social Events, 2-Outreach and Spiritual Encouragement, and 3-Field Trips, Sports and Games. Each group has a few activities to plan, and our Social Events Leadership Team planned our Independence Day celebration.
Leading up to that day, it felt strange for me not to be busy planning, but I was thankful for the time to focus on other things. As the day neared, I began to realize that some of my idols were being challenged. It was hard for me to not be in charge of anything, but still have many people coming to me with questions. I prayed that God would give me the humility to step back and let others take the lead for this fun day.
I love helping others and leading, so taking a backseat and just going along for the ride can be hard for me. When we realized that certain aspects of the day had not been planned, I tried to be helpful, but not to take over. Letting some details fall through the cracks is not as damaging as taking over what someone else is doing. I still have a vivid memory from my young adult life about a church work day. I had been asked to paint a certain wall in the church building. It was not anything artistic or fancy, just a shade of beige on a certain section of the hallway. I worked for quite some time trying to do a good job. I tend to be a little perfectionistic, so I probably took a lot longer than necessary on this wall. As I was finishing, a man from the church came and repainted everything I had spent hours doing. I went home and cried and thought, “If he is just going to redo everything, why did I work for hours?” That day I committed to myself that I never wanted to make anyone else feel that way. I would much rather help someone learn by working together or even reduce my expectations for the quality of something than make others feel like their work is worthless.
As the Independence Day celebration went on, there were some challenges and things that didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped, but overall our students along with some faculty supervision did a great job organizing a wonderful day! I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of equipping these amazing students for the leadership opportunities God gives them. And I’m thankful for the lessons God is teaching me in the process. Even when it is hard for me to step back, I’m learning to pray more and speak less. God is at work!
Parenting and teaching both provide ongoing lessons for me. As children grow they begin to work toward being more independent. It is a good, healthy process to equip our children to not need us. But it is also a little bit sad. As I see Evie growing and learning to do things on her own, I want to both celebrate and cry. Honestly, I like being needed, but I know it is healthy and good for our children to grow up. Evie is at the age now where she wants to carry a cup on her own and feed herself even though she usually ends up a bit of a disaster with both of these activities. But if she never tries to do these things on her own, how will she learn?
Sometimes it’s good to give my children and students opportunities for independence. I want to be a mother and a teacher who puts my full faith in God to be the One in control. Then I can be free to serve others with humility and grace rather than thinking that I am in charge. I can be okay with the mess of the learning process. In the end, it is much better for my students, my children and me when I accept that God is in control. This faith frees me from needing to be in charge or in control or to be needed. Trusting God also sets me free to let my children and students have the independence to learn, even when the process is messy.