My husband and I are both traveling through a time in our lives that is transitional in regards to our employment careers. As in many “markers” of life, when one door closes, there will be a time in which open eyes and ears lead to the next open door.
As I worshiped in song this morning, and thought about the meaning of the words I was singing, I found myself in a moment completely consumed with thankfulness. I look a moment to glance back at all those moments that led me up to this past week, and I was humbled.
Right out of college my heart was so excited to begin my teaching career. At the time, Cleveland held closed doors, and then one opened. And so, my young husband and I decided to walk through that door, one that led us to a move to Columbus and future employment at the Ohio School for the Deaf.
I enjoyed my time teaching with great passion. And then, a bouncing baby boy entered our lives, and then a beautiful baby girl. And in a moment of heart change, I knew that door was closing and a door to full-time Mommyhood was open. I openly struggled (as with any life change), but in glancing back, I only remember snapshots of love and laughter. And then, one by one, my long-ago infants entered school, and my days looked a bit different.
My intent was to enter back into education through substitute teaching. Naturally I had a desire to place myself in the school system my children attended. I followed all the necessary procedures for this to happen, but due to the nature of my specific degree, the door was closed. I remember inquiring about my application at the local central office, hearing the news, and walking to my car only to feel tears streaming down my cheeks.
A bit caught by surprise, I sought the root of my emotions by talking with my heavenly Father. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I knew He was shaping me, preparing me for my future, whatever His will may be. And so, over the next year, I decided to simply step into the “next”, the day by day obedience that comes through hard seeking and blind trust. And throughout the year, my heart learned how to be content through learning and serving in a variety of capacities. I grew in wisdom provided through our local BSF studies, I served other precious families at the Ronald McDonald House, I sat across from our local Panera with a variety of special women that He would bring to mind, I was able to be involved with the classrooms of each kiddo as well as their teachers and fellow staff, I had time for exercise, and grabbed moments with my husband as they were available.
Most days were so joyful, and yet I had a few moments of wonder. What would this next season of life bring? My heart still contained a yearning to become involved in my field of education, in some capacity, and yet, all the options my mind could thing of were either unavailable or not conducive to our family’s schedule. And then He provided two special families who each have been given a special young lady in their family. He provided an opportunity for me to care for their needs in their homes, and taught me how to love, give, and receive in ways that my heart had not experienced to this point. And I learned contentment through obedience, contentment in serving so simply, humbly, with no human accolades necessary.
And then summer arrived, and I once again grew in passion, and confusion, as to my future options in education. I expressed this sense of being baffled with my husband, then left for a short-term mission trip to Honduras. After returning, God closed a door to my husband’s current place of employment. With the school year quickly approaching, I prayed feverishly, mostly while running. It was on a run that for some reason, my past employer, the School for the Deaf, came to mind. So I called and I inquired about an opening for a substitute teacher. They had an opening, in fact, they had a long-term, high-school math teacher position that needed to be filled. Immediately. A teacher with twins just started a time of doctor-ordered bed rest. And a door opened.
I enjoyed my time of jumping in feet first. A smart board quickly became my new best friend, I met so many delightful young people, I shared delightful conversations with fellow staff members during lunch, and the papers to grade were a consistent companion. It was during this time that I learned of classes I could take to renew my teaching license that would fit with the needs of my family. It was a whirlwind few months, and at the end of December, I was embarking on a decision. A door was open in front of me, I needed to decide whether God would have me walk through the door or shut it.
I’m learning. I’m learning that no two situations are the same. In my husband’s case, a door was closed for him. In this case, I was waiting in the hall, not watching for an open door, but wondering if in fact I should walk through or watch it shut, trusting that a different one would open at a different time. And through my prayers, God was silent. I believe, in this case, he was truly giving me a choice. I don’t think either choice would have necessarily been wrong, I just think He was giving me the opportunity to make a decision without a direct command. You see, I knew, in my gut, that this had been a “glimpse”. I had this strong desire to “get back to teaching” and yet, ALL that comes with a full-time job requires a sacrifice of time and balance between work and home. I’ve met many people who are wired well for this. After taking an honest assessment of myself, I just am not one who was feeling called to continue to make that sacrifice at this time. And even though it didn’t compute in my logic, and I knew of the probability of the consequences that would result from the decision. I chose to close the door. And my heart was at peace.
Two weeks into January, another door opened. Our local school district joined a new system for implementing substitute teachers. My father had just completed the training process, and after one short week, I received an email welcoming me to the program that allowed access to available jobs to several districts in the Columbus area. I thoroughly enjoyed my time getting to know each one of the buildings, principals, staff, and students throughout the entire district. I especially enjoyed the days I taught in the buildings of my own kiddos. I had the opportunity to “see” into teaching styles, methods, and managements plans of several excellent teachers throughout a variety of subjects and grade levels. I LOVED the flexibility this afforded and really enjoyed meeting a variety of personalities and classroom groupings.
In fact, one day in mid May, I found myself in a fifth grade classroom of one of my childhood friends. In fact, she happened to be giving assessments in the hallway, a fellow colleague just happened to stop by her classroom, they happened to have a conversation, and this colleague then approached me about an employment opportunity. Honestly, I couldn’t have written a better job description if you had given me all day. I never knew this position, in our own district, even existed, and here was this former fellow pre-school Mom presenting it TO me in a manner of full excitement and support. Open door.
After lots of prayer, I decided to keep taking steps towards this open door until it was shut for me. I completed the necessary paperwork, I attended an interview, I attended a second interview just this past week, and a few hours later, I received a phone call from a dear lady offering me the position. I am now a part-time Support Services employee in the Hilliard School District. A new season of life begins August 15th for me, and soon to come, my husband will be entering a new employment season as well.
THAT’S MY GOD. All of it. Every single part. My pastor said this today, “Faith isn’t about following a plan; it’s about following God.” This is what I’m learning. I like plans. I like sticking to plans. I like agendas and routine. I like to use my logic. When anything threatens to mess with these, my dear companions, my first inclination is to resist. And yet, “As God becomes my focus, the focus of my heart becomes His.” In wrestling with me, I’ve learned the goodness that comes from laying down my right to understand, only to pick up the best – to embrace the trust. That includes trusting in the unknown, the essence of faith. And it doesn’t take a truckload of faith, it just takes a decision to choose to believe.
And today, I felt Him nudge me to share His story being written in my life. He asks me to reflect on His Almighty Goodness and faithful provision. He asks me to ponder the mystery of His unconditional, never-ending love for me. And he encourages me to keep taking steps towards trusting Him with my family and my future as more decisions are yet to me made for my husband.
I love this life He’s given me. I want to use it, all of it, everyday in every way, for Him. And until the day I see Him face to face, I want to choose to love Him and His people with all the strength, joy, and patience He gives.
What story is He writing in your life today?