A Sabbatical assigned by God (without the guilt)
Fall semester started at Longwood University’s Department of Social Work. The semester has started with plenty of social work majors excited for a new semester in particular, the students who have one more semester to complete before entering the official field placement. After 14 consecutive years in back to back teaching practice classes in the area of individuals, groups, and families something or perhaps should I say someone is missing. That one associate faculty who has been the backbone of these practice classes is missing in action.
As Social Work faculty, we weave into our curriculum and perhaps state in our mission statement the importance of self-care. Even my syllabi proudly reiterates throughout the content the importance of self-care with even experiential exercises offered throughout the course consisting of keywords in the syllabi such as: recharge, stress management, self-prospectus, play, and even “a life outside Social Work”. On a deeper level, the word of God mentions the need for rest.
It’s interesting that intellectually, I teach undergraduates the need to recharge their batteries in order to be a more effective social worker. After all, I am the practice professor teaching these students about avoiding burnout, etc. In addition, I believe the word of God and have no problems comprehending his message on harvesting/recharging/and resting. After all, the bible states this message very clearly. Here I am in the beginning of a semester ready to beat myself up for not carrying a full time teaching load. Without renewing the mind and turning these thoughts over to the care of my loving God, the head will just go….cognitive behavioral therapy vanishes without any kind of censorship to the mind chatter. For example, “what will my coworkers think of me”, “what if they like the adjunct better than me”, “do I really deserve this,” “I have to keep doing to show them how hard I have worked this semester”.
Frankly, I am not sure what my life would be like if I wasn’t willing to continue to enlarge my spiritual life on a daily basis. Not to mention, to have a few good friends as well as a supportive family. In these times, it is essential to find my identity in Christ verses a worldly identity of what I do for a living. When I surround myself with people who want what is in my highest good such as my husband, son, and mentor from the University of Louisville they redirect me to the real purpose of a God who wants us all to be rested and cared for in his divine mercy.
The flesh wants to torture my head with thoughts of not deserving or feeling worthy of this sabbatical. However, this practice professor in Social Work is a child of God who is worthy of much more than one sabbatical. The real sabbatical will be eternal life and until that day God has given me full permission to harvest, recharge, and rejuvenate in order to be most helpful and effective in working with his kids during this time on earth. This sabbatical was appointed by my main employer who is the savior of this world. Instead of the guilt, I can count my blessings for this amazing gift of accepting a guilt-free sabbatical.
Kris Nugent is an associate professor in Social Work. She teaches undergraduate classes full-time in the area of practice social work. In addition, she teaches online classes in the area of addiction and global social work. Please e-mail her if you have any questions.