Counselor’s notes: It’s back to school time

News | September 12, 2019

A mother rejoices at her newly-found freedom to grocery shop without 3 kids in tow or complete a 30-minute workout without interruption.

A student is distressed over the fact that none of her friends are in C lunch with her.

Another student struggles night after night to understand his math homework.

A father proudly posts the annual “first-day-of school” photos of his kids, while secretly lamenting over how much his “babies” have grown since that “first-day” photo from 5 years ago pops up in his Facebook memories.

Yet another parent grieves, as this back-to-school milestone is the reminder of what one has lost:

– a child gone off to college or work/who’s left home,

– health issues preventing a child from participating in “normal” school-life, OR

– a child who is missing or deceased.

Back-to-school is a significant period of transition during our year and is experienced with a wide array of emotions. For some (e.g. starting kindergarten, moving to a new school, or going off to college/becoming empty nesters), it also marks the beginnings of a major life transition.

In times of transition our regular routine is disrupted, causing stress and anxiety, and we’re faced with making changes to restore that sense of equilibrium in our lives. Transition does not occur in a vacuum and our ability to adapt is influenced by a whole host of factors: financial security, environmental stressors, social support network, and the ways in which we interpret or perceive the world around us, are just a few.

In the midst of transition, we may find ourselves surprised & relieved at how well we (or our children) are handling the changes we earlier anticipated would be so challenging. Contrary to that, we may find ourselves taken aback when our eyes begin to well with tears and a pit begins to form in our stomach – just when we thought we had been “handling things so well!”

John Fisher’s “Process of Transition” curve is a great illustration of the thoughts and feelings we may associate with various stages of our transitioning. It helps us understand the path we are on and its possible outcomes, as well as normalize this process which is every bit a part of our human existence.

If you, a friend, or family member are experiencing challenges adapting to the start of a new school year or any life transition, consider reaching out to Angie Vaaler, St. Paul’s social worker/counselor. She can provide resources, be a listening ear, and help you explore solutions to ease the process of your transitions. To schedule an appointment with Angie, call 563-326-3547, ext. 312. Her services are free to St. Paul members/family and the Madison Elementary community.

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Coming Messenger 3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[a] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Return to Nazareth 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.