(Editor’s note: Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavioral disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7: 24-25).
It is a relief for summer vacation to finally arrive. Yet, as I reflect back on this challenging school year, I realize how much I have grown. God gave me the first year of my career to get a feel for my role and my students. Having established a solid foundation, I felt as if he battered me with storms this year that tested that foundation. He taught me that when I rely on myself, my foundation turns to sand and cannot support my stress and worries. However, when I rely on God, who is my rock, I can bear the crosses without sliding. I take on the challenges; instead of being pushed down into sand my rock stays solid and keeps me upright. Instead of falling into despair, I have learned how God’s gifts, such as trust, mercy, compassion, joy and optimism, make me stronger. I am able to keep building on that rock as I use the tools with which God graces me.
Being stationed on a rock gives me a vantage point to take in all of the beauty around me. Realizing I do not need to worry about falling, I am able to appreciate God’s little gifts even more. I relish the release from exercising in the breathtaking mountains. I value an hour of solitude with God. I cherish the relief of the start of summer vacation and the much-needed break. I am also able to reflect and celebrate all of the successes this year scattered among the struggles. I see how much so many of my students have grown. I see my student who blossomed in identifying emotions and started providing others with the correct answers. I see my students who are ready to transition to a school with more access to typical peers. I see my student who gives me a smile every single morning that melts my heart. I hear and identify the sounds of countless students as they pass by my office each morning. I see the staff members who do not hesitate to help someone in need. I hear the laughter among my co-workers as we find humor in trying situations.
I recall all of these moments and how they are all possible because of God. He put me where I am for a reason. He gives me the tools I need to achieve his will, which then allows me to see his goodness in so many ways. This year, more than ever, God reminded me that he will never give me more than I can handle. I experienced how having a foundation of sand brings me further down, while having a foundation of rock lifts me higher. The more I rely on God, the more he gives, and the more he gives me, the more I can give others. It is such a beautiful cycle that I intend to remember. As I jump into the excitement of summer, I find myself eager to spend time in nature and with family and friends. More importantly, I look forward to the countless hours I will get to spend with God as I continue to build on my solid foundation and get ready for the year to come.