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Forward to School

Jonathon M. Seidl

July 22, 2022 | 3 minute read

I heard this ad on the radio the other day that I just can’t get out of my head. 

It was for “back to school,” but, instead of using that terminology, the company put a unique spin on it: “Let’s not go back to school, let’s go forward to school!”

Now that is clever. What a great phrase, right? 

Or maybe not. 

I say “maybe not” because I think when it comes to going “back to school” there are a lot of us who aren’t really looking forward to it. We hear that phrase and something inside us dies a little. 

We love the summer. It signifies freedom. Sleep in, do what you want, have a blast. Vacations, bonfires, parties – all the fun things. School, though? That’s restrictive. It means responsibility. It means deadlines and assignments and being a slave to your watch. It means driving through those dreaded school zones and having to account for that extra time on your commute.

We naturally gravitate towards the former and shrink back from the latter. 

I think that’s because we inherently don’t like to be pinned down; we don’t like responsibility. 

What I mean by that is, if given a choice and all other things being equal, we gravitate towards what’s easy. We naturally want to swim with the current instead of against it. It’s part of our nature. Even the most studious and responsible person I think would admit that. 

This applies to both students and parents. Teachers too, even.

So when we hear “back to school,” it grates against that natural inclination. But what if we changed our mindset this year? What if instead of dreading “back to school” we embraced, “forward to school”? 

See, I think we all have an opportunity this school year. An opportunity to make it better, to be better. An opportunity to be light in a dark place. We have an opportunity to seize this season. You know one way I think we do that? We need to take what we’ve learned about ourselves this summer and apply it to the next 10 months. 

“But Jon, I haven’t learned anything this summer!”

See that’s where I think you’re wrong. 

We’re all constantly learning, even when we don’t think we are. We struggle, though, with recognizing the lessons or even the teachers.

I have a friend, Phillip, who recently posted something I think will help. He was on a walk and, as a talented photographer, he always brings his camera. He uploaded a picture of something he found on a recent hike that is almost other-worldly. 

It was a flower. A flower that is all around us but that I never noticed before. It’s a buttonbush plant, and it’s prevalent here in Texas. But I never would have known that. 

(Courtesy of Phillip Slaughter, Oath Photography)

His words, I think, are important:

“It’s amazing some of the things you see when you look around and observe nature!"

Friends, it’s amazing some of the things you can learn about yourself if you take the time to observe.

For me, I’ve learned about the importance of rest. I struggled a lot this summer with feeling “guilty” if I wasn’t going at a frenetic pace. On afternoons when my workload was light, I found myself scrambling to do something, anything, to make me “feel” productive. Instead of thanking God for a time of rest, I did everything I could to erase it. 

That’s kinda ironic for a guy who wrote the book on “Finding Rest.” But the truth is, we are always learning, always growing, always being refined. 

That’s a big way I was refined this summer. 

So here’s my challenge to you: I want you to think about what you’ve learned this summer and consider how it could change the way you approach the school year. I think you can pick out at least one way you were refined this summer and use it as a springboard to go “forward to school.” 

I’ve included some questions about your summer to help you do just that:

  • What was your biggest win?
  • What was your biggest failure?
  • What was your toughest challenge?
  • Where and when did you find the most joy? (Not happiness, but true joy)
  • How have you changed over the last few months?

I think as you explore those questions you’re going to find some fascinating answers – answers that, frankly, others need to hear.

See, one thing I think we take for granted about the school year is how it naturally lends itself to community. We are forced, in a way, into being with and around others more. And in community we learn, teach, and challenge one another.

So when I talk about going “forward to school,” I want you to hear that it’s not just for you. It’s for others. God has given all of us unique strengths, unique experiences, unique insights. And it’s in community where those shine.

I want you to shine this school year. I don’t want you to shrink “back,” but rather to press “forward.” 

Make that shift in your mind, and I think you’re poised for a school year like none other. 

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. (Jon) Seidl is a writer, speaker, and digital media strategist. He’s the author of the #1 bestseller, Finding Rest: A Survivor’s Guide to Navigating the Valleys of Anxiety, Faith, and Life.

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