It isn’t that I didn’t want to teach. I did. I could see myself in it. I knew I had the skill set to do it. It’s just that I was twenty. I had a vision for my life that equalled success in my mind, and teaching didn’t fit into the vision. So, I majored in English, minored in Spanish, and made no plan for a career at all. My full and complete plan was to wife and mom the heck out of life – because you could not have a career and be the best wife and mom possible.
For years, I focused on being the very best wife I could be – or whatever I THOUGHT a good wife should be – only to discover that it did not garner me that feeling of accomplishment – certainly not fulfillment – that I thought it would. So, babies. Of course, babies would allow me the opportunity to really succeed and thrive. At the time, I didn’t know success was what was propelling me forward, but it was. Be the best. Play the part. Rock it so hard.
And in some ways, I filled those roles well. I did them well. People told me so, but my kids didn’t notice or care – they just needed me every second of every moment of every day. I felt – feel – simultaneously enamored with them and suffocated by them. Literally and symbolically.
The Holy Spirit helped me identify this need to be part of building, growing, contributing to SOMEthing outside my home when my kids were still babies. It’s taken me 5+ years to really feel at peace about stepping away from my full-time responsibilities at home to pursue a full-time career. It was subtle, really.
I did a little writing for our church in Orlando before Jude was born. I also sat on a Creative Team that collaborated to help our Pastor work through his sermon series for the quarter. I remember that those things made me feel so alive, so strong. But still, how could I be a good mom and work outside the home?
I helped in a more hands on way as we built a website and infrastructure for the church plant we were a part of in Colorado. I started viewing “leader” not as a title, but as a person who actively, daily leads. I explored my gifting, my natural bends, and my dreams. I prayed about them regularly and began to wonder what it would look like to work outside the home. Still, I felt guilty – like I was failing as a mother if I missed any piece of their little lives – and also I felt resentful that I didn’t get to pursue my own career dreams.
We moved back to Louisiana. I needed to help with the income. I stepped into network marketing. I grew exponentially through that experience. I tasted what it is to work in a job where I am seen and rewarded in direct proportion to the work I do. It allowed me to give Jude all five of his first years at home with his mama, napping in his own bed, playing quietly with his toys, reading books in my lap.
“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer– Dr. Wayne Dyer
I struggled with feeling depressed. Jude was in Pre-K all morning every morning and, for the first time in a decade, I had what I had been clamoring for all those years – free time. As an Enneagram 3, I was no longer in motion. I was forced to sit as a human BEING instead of a human DOING.
During this time I was also actively teaching a large women’s Bible study at our church. This was the first time I’d ever been afforded the opportunity to teach. I’d led plenty of small groups. There was that one summer when I taught four year olds at a Day Care. Some sort of light flickered to life within me when I taught. It was new, and I loved it. I loved preparing a lesson and then bending it to fit what was happening in the room, watching heads nod in agreement, experiencing the Lord take my Words and bend them to His will. I did love it in the way that it I felt affirmed in it, but I also loved it because I had never felt like a truer version of myself than when I was teaching.
In addition, I was working every Tuesday at a local boutique. I began to notice a pattern. Tuesdays were my favorite days by a long shot. I came home to my kids and my man engaged, happy, and productive versus the days that my to-do list had no tangible results nor a real end. I loved working. In particular, I loved working in an environment that involved interacting with actual, real life people in an actual, real life place.
Jude starts school in the fall. The children are beginning to cost one thousand, million dollars a piece. Josh works in a non-profit. I knew I needed to either amp up my efforts in my online business, or I needed to find, at the very least, a part-time job.
So, I asked three of the women who I think know me best here in town the following questions:
What do you think I should be investing my time in? Where do you see sin blind spots in my life?
Their answers, given in love, were unexpectedly revealing. In short, they told me
- that I am most myself, most alive when I am teaching
- that I am healthiest when I restrict the time my thoughts are able to roam freely
- that I am prone to discontentment
Could it be possible that God was pushing me away from the dream of writing daily and instead pushing me toward teaching full time? Toward something that keeps me present and creative all day every day? Doesn’t everyone clamor for the jobs that allow them time freedom and lots of money? Isn’t that what I should be pursuing? But there it was, so clear but so terrifying to me – to relinquish my freedom, to surrender (some of) my kids’ school activities, to embrace a different dream than I ever dreamed for myself.
Teaching has always been on the table. I’ve danced with the possibility since I was a little girl. In fact, in this whole process, I discovered that I, in fact, took the Praxis II in 2008 – and passed – of which I have no recollection! I’ve filled out an application to a Teacher Practitioner Program twice before this most recent time. I almost took a job teaching at a private school two years ago. But every time – fear. Always fear – because what will I miss if I take a full-time teaching job? What will I have to let go of?
God brought all of this full circle when I was given the opportunity to take a full-time marketing job. I would’ve loved it. I would’ve been good at it. It would have helped us so much financially. And almost all in one moment I realized: I DO want to work outside the home. Not quietly for myself in a coffee shop but being pushed and challenged creatively and organizationally with a team. I want to work. I simultaneously realized that I DO NOT want to miss the next fourteen summers with my kids.
I love to teach. I love people. I want to work. I want to be home with my kids when they are home.
I whispered a prayer, “Lord, I surrender. If this is what you want for me, fling open the doors. If not, keep the shut. I trust you.” I began applying for teaching jobs immediately, and the rest is history.
Here are the three things that I think helped me most in this process:
- The Lord’s Prayer. Praying a simple, daily, relinquishing of power, give me what I need sort of prayer is revolutionizing my life. If you are tired of the sound of your own thoughts, this will be a gift to you, too.
- Hard Questions. Ask a few thoughtful questions of the people who know you best and who you trust the most. If you are brave enough to hear their answers, you might just find they point you in the exact right direction.
- Attentiveness. Josh and I chatted about this on date night last week – if we want to grow, we have to pay attention to our own thoughts, emotions, and reactions. We cannot very well take captive that which we don’t even pay attention to. Knowing yourself well is vital in taking your best next step.
If you’ve never listened to Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, The Next Right Thing, or read her book by the same title – do. She explores the idea of making decisions well. She helps us all see that living in a soulful way – in curiosity about ourselves and our world and in communion with our friend Jesus – frees us up to make choices without wearing ourselves out.
I’m utterly at peace about this decision – unexpectedly excited, even. What a surprise. What a gift!
*Every piece of this journey is marked by the lovingkindness of God. This, as all of abundant life living, has been a healing process – a reprogramming of sorts. Prayer, Bible study, and quiet reflection have been part of my life throughout. Apart from them, I would be lost. Jesus, once again, is taking my meager offering and making it lovely. Everything good is always because of Him.