Let them see You in me. Let them hear You when I speak. Let them feel You when I teach.
~JJ Weeks Band
Sun streaming in through the cracked shades, the heat of August enveloping my small, rented house, this song played on repeat as I sat on my couch praying for each of my students. As I prepared for year three, I was feeling a strong mixture of terror and excitement.
Most were stunned when I chose to continue teaching at the small, rural school that had been my first job out of college. To say that my first two years had not been easy would be quite an understatement. My second year contained many thrills and accomplishments, littered with discouragement and tussles with parents. However, my first year had almost ended my teaching career before it even started.
Each day was torturous as I walked into a minefield. Dreadfully unaccepted by the students, the parents, and the school board, what started out as a passion for a new career in August ended with me crumpled in a heap underneath the pressures and negativity that bogged down my efforts on a daily basis.
However, I persevered into my second year, and then my third, unwilling to let a small town set in its ways rule over me. I found myself slowly winning the hearts of those I worked with. My students revealed their pleasant sides, which actually contained some respect, a fact I seriously doubted in my first year. The parents came around even slower, but eventually, recognized my deep passion to help their children.
By the end of my third year, I was no longer burdened with stress and worry, just a large, 9-month pregnant belly. My career had become everything I hoped it might in my first year. As the days before my son would be born passed, I felt as though I did more laughing with my students than teaching. When I would walk through the door in the morning, unable to believe my swollen feet would carry me through another day, I remembered why I was still coming to work and why I chose to stay in an impossible situation–it was the students.
I needed them to believe they were smart enough to learn, a fact that many of them had been trained to reject. I needed them to believe, so badly, that they could achieve more. I needed them to accept that a challenge is not always a bad thing.
I sat down to write this today because it has been over a year since I stepped into a classroom. Now as my fuzzy-headed boy sleeps through the afternoon, I am in my basement weeding through three totes of books, lesson plans, flashcards, and parts-of-speech games. I do not know if I will ever go back, but if I do, I need to decide what I will want and what will be worthless to me. I would rather not keep a 10-pound book on differentiated instruction if it will be useless in ten years when I am, once again, called Mrs. Kranz.
I finally walked away from the calling that God seemed to have forced upon me for another calling. It seemed, as though, God finally said three years was long enough and He had a much different plan in mind. The weeks before my son was born were the best weeks I ever had as a teacher. I left my classroom for the final time knowing I had done all I could, knowing God was in control, knowing I did not give up.
Throughout my first year as a stay-at-home mom, God has reminded me consistently that this is His plan. As my husband and I grapple with the finances of a single-income household, God says, “This is My plan.” As I struggle to maintain my composure when it has been three days since I’ve spoken to an adult, God says, “This is My plan.” As I listen to my best friends, who all happen to be teachers, longing for those days, God says, “This is My plan.”
Following God is like reading a mystery novel: you can’t force yourself to read any faster, constantly being interrupted by the real-world whizzing by, but you are desperate for the answers to reveal themselves. The questions whirling through your naive mind keep you up at night, almost haunting you. Finding a good book sometimes feels more like a curse than it does a blessing. The decision to walk with God is not much different. He, also, does not work faster–no matter how much we wish it.
The option to not follow Him is constantly beckoning me, putting on the facade of the most delectable treat, because walking away from a calling you were sure you were meant for is not easy. I feel more blessed than most for the opportunity to stay home with my children (soon to be two for my faithful readers that don’t know). However, there are days that I would give anything and everything to be back in the classroom, away from the unrestrained ball of mischief, whom I call my son.
However, when these doubts become too loud for me to handle, perhaps when I find myself staring at a heap of teaching supplies I am reluctant to get rid of, God once again reminds me, “This is My plan.”