Walking the Talk

This is a post that has been a long time in coming. I’m still surprised at how I got here, and I have no clear idea of where I’m going next.

The Backstory

At the end of January, life had finally piled up until a stress-related condition raged out of control. I missed work to seek medical help, and ended up being reprimanded by one of my bosses. The school year had been filled with crazy events like my husband tearing a tendon and needing knee surgery as well as someone to pick up all his slack for two months. As he was getting back on his feet (literally) from that, he ended up in the hospital with swine flu. Meanwhile, I was trying to keep up with my job when all of my “working vacations” had been interrupted and still juggle running, church duties, and other things. It was more than my body could take. (Although I think I’m fortunate it took its toll on my body more than my mind.)

Naturally, I began to re-evaluate my life. I started praying and even fasting about how to let go of all of the things I was doing. I was seeking the Lord’s guidance on how to proceed and what was essential to keep in my life. I expected a sensible answer, like reducing my time working out each week, dropping some hobbies, or lowering my personal standards in certain areas of my life.

The Lord’s Answer

I was blown away as the Lord gently began pointing me toward the conclusion that I needed to leave teaching and look to a new future. My husband and I were so close to having our biggest debts paid off — about two years — and being able to live on his salary alone. I’ve been a teacher for 16 years, and it’s a huge part of my identity! Then, there’s the fact that all of my students are my “adopted children,” and it’s going to hurt to leave them behind.

I fought the answer for two months, but officially turned in my resignation letter on May 1, 2017.

The emotional aftermath

Walking the walk is much harder than I expected. It’s much easier to sit behind a keyboard and take hardline viewpoints on the world. When my financial future felt predictable and my big issue was learning to choose compassion over being judgemental (I should write another post on that — it’s a much deeper story than I imagined), I felt secure in my religious superiority.

Now, I feel a little bit more like the proverbial redneck who starts up the high dive shouting, “Hey y’all, watch this” as I set out to demonstrate the proper form for a belly flop! I’ve told colleagues I guess I’m moving from my “get rich slow” plan to my “won’t have two nickels to rub together in my pocket” plan.

I have learned, though, that faith is a choice. In fact, it’s a choice I have to make every day. I have to decide which messages in my head are the ones I’m going to accept as true. I have to choose to label my fears as negative storytelling. I have to feed myself gospel messages that the Lord cares for those who are truly doing their best to follow him. I have to hang on to the vision that the Lord has a plan — it’s only my plan that has been scrapped.

What Next?

I don’t know.

As I have been praying and fasting about what direction to take, the answers seem to point toward an internet (ad)venture. My “practical” side is scoffing, because everyone — including their pets — is setting out to make their fortune on the internet, and my voice will be just one tiny blip on the landscape. However, the Lord I serve is a Lord of miracles who can walk on water, part seas and make dry ground, deflect arrows away from a prophet, and put a ram in a bush to save a faithful son’s life. Again, I choose faith and optimism.

If, in the short term, I go back and do some substitute teaching or wait tables at a local restaraunt, I’m fine with that. I will meet people that, if I continue as I am now progressing, I will be able to lift and maybe leave their lives a little better for knowing me. Who says odd jobs can’t be part of the Lord’s plan?

The important part is for me to follow that plan.