If you’ve noticed, I haven’t written much in this space over the last few months. In fact, I’ve been pretty quiet, even though I used to post about two to three times a week. Maybe that didn’t even register for you, or maybe you’ve wondered, in passing, why you weren’t getting that many emails from Divine Ordinary anymore.
Today, I am over at Grace & Truth Linkup on Arabah Joy’s blog. It seemed like a good time to jump back in to blogging. I hope you’ll join us over there!
My lack of posts started when my dad was in the hospital for a month both locally and in Columbus (which is about a hour and a half drive from me). He was hospitalized on July 28th and didn’t come home until about a week before school started.
Which brings me to the reason my life has changed drastically in the past few months. After years of working from home, I started teaching again – middle school English to be exact. And even though I only teach half a day, it’s still a lot of work. A lot. More than I remembered or expected. Turns out, things have changed a lot since I taught six years ago!
Not only that, but my oldest son started college this fall. Even though he is going to school locally and is still living at home, it is very different. It’s not really High School 2.0. We share a car, so that is also different – and sometimes challenging. I used to have the day to myself from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Now, that isn’t the case. He has two jobs, so he is rarely home in the evenings, either. When he is home, his time is spent surrounded by books and papers at the kitchen table.
When my husband approached me about teaching again (he’s the superintendent/principal at a Christian school), I thought it over and said yes. I had enjoyed teaching before, and I thought a change would be nice. Sometimes, working at home can get lonely. Not to mention, sometimes it’s hard to get people to understand that while yes, you are home, you are also WORKING, not eating bon bons and watching daytime television.
I’m going to be really honest. While I thought I was ready for some change, I haven’t been doing so well with it. First, I had forgotten how much work the first year of teaching new classes could be. There is so much prep work and now, with all the testing, there is an added layer of urgency and pressure to get everything in. You can’t really meander down any old learning trail anymore. You have to stay on the path and get it done.
At least the whole teaching English thing was somewhat familiar to me. The one thing that took me by complete surprise, though, was how much I have mourned my lost identity. For six years, I was a working writer. No, I didn’t make very much money, and yes, working for the newspaper came with hassles of its own. I thought I was more than ready to ditch the weekly deadlines. But I was an “official” writer. I made an income doing it. I worked for myself. I made a difference in my community with the words I wrote.
Becoming an employee felt, in many ways, like going backwards. When I let go of writing as a job, it felt like I had let go of an anchor. Since then, I have felt a bit lost and adrift because my identity as a writer was tied up way more than I thought in where I worked.
I don’t know if you can relate to this idea of what you do equals what you are, but it was tangled much deeper into the roots of my soul than I realized.
The truth is, I’m still a writer. I’m working on several writing projects, and I do a newsletter for a local teen ministry. So, it’s not that I am not writing. It’s more that my title has changed.
In July, I went to my 25th year high school reunion. Yes, that makes me feel pretty ancient. We played this game and one of the questions was what we wanted to do in high school and what we were doing now. I was doing BOTH the things I wanted to do – not quite in the ways I had envisioned (my visions including something much bigger and grander, to be honest).
I was living my dream.
And then I wasn’t.
And it was hard.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my students. I have always enjoyed teaching, and I still enjoy it. But things have changed and I find myself in a very different season of life and mindset than the last time I taught.
The last time I taught, writing was just a dream – out there. Sure, I had a little blog (if you’ve been with me long enough, you might remember my blog Free Indeed over at blogspot).
The thing is, I felt like I was supposed to take the teaching job, that God needed me to invest in the lives of the students He would bring through my classroom door.
It’s hard when you do what you think God wants you to do, and then feel like it is a mistake for so many reasons. It’s hard because then you start to second guess what you thought you knew. After all, God doesn’t send emails or write in the sky.
Instead, He holds out His hand and asks us to take the next step in faith. He asks us to trust Him, even when He leads us to what surely looks like a mistake.
Remember the Israelites, having just gained their freedom from slavery from Egypt? They found themselves at the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army approaching in the distance. They stood on the banks of the Red Sea, probably terrified as they felt the rumble beneath their feet that telegraphed the encroaching army and certain doom. They had no way to defend themselves. They couldn’t run – there were thousands of them with women, children and babies. They had livestock and supplies. Not exactly a group that could make a quick get away.
I heard that story growing up in church, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that the Isrealites didn’t end up on the banks of the Red Sea because they took a wrong turn or because their version of a GPS failed them.
God led them between the proverbial rock and a hard place – or in this case, between the sea and the army.
And it was there – in that seemingly impossible place and situation – that God delivered them in a big and miraculous way.
It doesn’t say, but I think God did that because He could see the future. He knew they would need a miracle that was so big and so spectacular to hang on to as they made their long way to the Promised Land.
God has led me to a seemingly impossible place – teaching and all the hours that entails and writing and all the work and focus and time that entails. I’ve spent a lot of time telling God I can’t see how it will all work. He’s continued to say, “Trust me.”
How about you? What is your Red Sea moment of faith? Do you trust God enough to hang with Him long enough to see the miracle?