I’m hoping this doesn’t turn out to be a delicate confession that I end up defending at work, so please keep reading all the way to the end!
You see, I never really intended to be a teacher. When I decided to major in music education, my goal was to have a “fall back” degree. I intended to be a homemaker and/or a songwriter and performer.
However, it turned out that I had some baggage as a young adult that would not have allowed me to be a successful performer, and my selection of a first husband wasn’t as wise as I could have hoped. I ended up divorced with three small children to raise, so I had no choice but to finish up my license and look for a teaching position.
I can look back now and see how God led and directed my path, because I was able to do the impossible over and over again as I raised my kids, worked full time as a teacher, and completed a master’s degree. I reaped the blessings of paying tithing faithfully as what I needed was always provided — even though receiving child support was often the exception rather than the rule.
Teaching music has, by and large, been an amazing career. The face time with the kids, teaching my heart out, trying to share a passion of mine with a rising generation is priceless. To walk the halls of school and be treated like a rock star, to see children get excited when they see me in the grocery store, and to hear news that former students have exceeded my musical abilities are all sources of indescribable joy.
However, every career has its “dark underbelly,” and that includes teaching. The evaluation system that I and my colleagues face every year is demoralizing. The endless data collecting and testing robs us of opportunities to truly infuse joy into learning. Many of us feel like we are being forced to be part of a machine that turns out widgets instead of educated, upstanding individuals.
Last May, I suffered a professional disappointment that has left me heartbroken. Two months into the school year, and it is still hard for me to shake it off enough to get to work in the mornings. I am using most of my emotional energy to keep going from day to day.
So, when I started a second marriage about a year ago (to the most wonderful man I have ever met, I might add), I started hoping that I would soon be able to leave the teaching profession, focus on the writing that I have always wanted to do, and continue honoring my teacher side by running a few community groups.
An offer appeared, and after my husband and I looked at the financial side and weighed the benefits to me emotionally, we were ready to make the change. However, we learned a long time ago to seek Heavenly Father’s will through fasting and prayer before proceeding. Our answer was clear — I needed to stick with teaching.
So, as I hit low points from day-to-day, I found myself praying that perhaps this might be my last year as a public educator — even though I felt a bit guilty about leaving the kids behind. In this last general conference, my husband and I received the same answer during the same talk — I am to prepare myself to continue teaching until it is time for my husband to retire and we can serve full time missions together.
I wish I could say that I was overjoyed with the impression and thrilled that I had God’s stamp of approval on my career choice from so long ago. However, after a week of reflection, these are the things I know
- even when I don’t totally understand what is going on, following God’s will for my life is infinitely better than trying to fight Him and do things my own way,
- whether or not I find joy in my teaching is up to me — I am the one who chooses my focus and my attitude,
- I really, really love the students I teach,
- knowing that God has a purpose for what I’m doing makes it easier to keep going, and
- whatever God asks of me, He will provide a way for me to make it happen.
So, in the end, I will continue to be a teacher because God wants me to be a teacher. That’s actually really, really cool!