|Checking out the hedge to see if any stray cats are hiding away.|
I've been stewing around part three. I have a couple of ideas swarming each other and trying to get to the forefront. Which, in my mind, just leads to a lot of confusion, and I keep yelling at my brain, "What are you trying to say?!" It never quite gets through. I think I could blame this on mom-brain. Or maybe that I save all my serious thinking until the middle of the night.
Coming off the ideas in Part 1 and Part 2, my words for this next segment would be disobedience and mercy. I had struggled with anger and rebellion, not wanting to do what I felt I should do. I had struggled with surrendering my desires, plans, and identities to Christ. (not going to lie, still struggle with these things). And then my anger, my disobedience, my selfishness, and my idolatry caught up with me.
Like I sort of mentioned before, work started to get really hard. For lots of little reasons, and lots of big ones too. It was hard to get out of bed--not just because of the intense fatigue via pregnancy--but because I dreaded going to work. I dreaded opening my email box to the plethora of notes complaining about one petty issue after the other. I don't think people were trying to beat me down, but that's what was happening. My assistant was having health issues and so couldn't always be at work. Even when she was, she couldn't do much on her feet. I felt like I was doing a job-and-a-half to compensate. And then there was Treasure Island which is another full time job.
It was an exhausting season, and really, I have no idea how I got through that. I would like to share more specific stories, but this is probably not the time or place to that. Maybe in the future I'll be able to do that.
Without getting into all the grimy details....
I can sum it up for you: God removed the joy.
Where was the joy? Where had it disappeared to?
Why, it was right around the corner, my dear friend.
It was where it always was; at the very center of His will.
I felt His discipline in my life.
It wasn't like He was smacking me on the head with a cane and saying, "repent! repent or be chastised, sinner!"
It was more like He was saying, "I made you for a purpose: to worship and obey me. Now, get over here and worship and obey me. This is where you will be safe, and where you will find rest. This is where joy is and fulfillment. This is where you are a whole person. Ok, beloved, you can stay over there and get smacked around like a wet noodle. Or you can run over to me and I'll take care of everything. Your choice."
So eventually, I got tired of being a punching bag and realized that God was right.
He disciplined me out of love. He wanted me for Himself. He wanted to restore our relationship and to be reconciled with each other. He wanted us to be together, not separated by anger and bitterness. He wanted my obedience, not my selfish whining.
Thankfully, I'm not one for doing things the hard way. Because of His generous mercy, He brought me back. This is when I finally came to terms with what was changing. "I don't know why this is happening now, but I'm good with it, ok God?" I wish I could say that the year magically got better after that acceptance and surrender.
But, not necessarily. I mean, He gave me strength to get through it. He probably protected me from even worse things happening. But yeah, it was a tough year. And on the last afternoon of my last day of teaching at that school.....I thought.....it is good.
It is good to be finished.
Thank you for letting me finish.
I saved some documents that I thought I might use in the future (which I haven't) on my flash drive. Grabbed my book bag. Walked out the door. Got in the van. Went home.
There was no fanfare. No goodbye party. No group hug. No accolades. No best wishes card. No songs of adulation. It was over. And it was good.
I struggled a little with this. Although there was relief and peace at being finished, I thought that it was the most anti-climatic ending of my life. Usually when you close a major chapter in your life, you expect a big bang or something. At least some fireworks or something. Some tears? Some pats on the back?
And I had to be fine with that. After all the fighting with myself, the fighting to survive the year, the fighting with God....I thought that surely there would be some resounding trumpets from heaven that announced I had done the right thing, that I had done a good job at it, and that I was moving on just as I should.
Like I said. There weren't any trumpets around.
Just one more reminder of how we have to die to ourselves. Teaching was never about me. It was just something that God had me do for a few years, and that was good, but now it was over, and that was good too.
When I write about this, I still remember how I yearned for a legacy. I don't think I wish for that anymore, but I still can taste its flavor so poignantly. Perhaps it is the last step of surrendering a false identity: the desire for a legacy.
My students that year had been obsessed with looking at old year books. Every time we went up to the library, they would pull out the old year books and look over every page meticulously. They would stare at the faces of children who were long gone, kids that they never met, and wonder who they were. They would point at places or events they could identify. They would laugh at head-shots of teachers that were still there after a decade of working in China.
I could see it so clearly in the students as they poured over the yearbooks, because I saw in myself too.
Who will remember me when I'm gone?
What difference have I made here?
What is the mark that I will leave on this place?
On these precious children?
On my colleagues?
Will I be just a picture in a yearbook?
Does it even matter?
until next time........just think about it.
|Running away, towards freedom and deep ditches and such.|