To address some feedback I've been receiving (thank you, readers!):
- People tell me that I'm young and I'll be able to teach again. They wonder if I really think that was my last year of teaching......The answer is, I don't know! Maybe, maybe not. I don't want you to think that I've taken some sort of defeatist attitude about this, or that I'm resigning the rest of my life to being barefoot in the kitchen. It's just that, for right now, I'm not concerning myself with returning to a career of teaching.
- People also point out that being a mom is still like being a teacher. Ok, yes and no. First of all, I don't get paid. Second of all, there are no vacations, recesses, or weekends off. In some ways it's better than being a teacher....in other ways it's so much more overwhelming.
- Finally, the chances of me teaching again at SYIS are slim. I was very much aware of this as I was closing up my 'Last Year of Teaching in China'.
I was saying goodbye to my first classroom, to seeing my colleagues (who happen to be my friends) everyday, to eating lunch at a structured time, to writing morning work on the whiteboard. There were many things I was more than happy to say goodbye to, but there were also sweet moments that made it hard to close that chapter of life. I miss quiet morning work time, I miss reading units and 8-year-olds' poetry. I miss finding the occasional hilarious sentence while grading. I miss how sweet third graders were, and how our little community was so comfortable. I miss watching them read voraciously, and their thoughtfulness. I miss being surprised by how intelligent they are at the most unexpected moments. I have so many memories, however faded they are, of laughing at their silliness. The things they said and did filled my work with so much entertainment.
So there was this sadness of leaving that part of life behind. And like I said before, looking at yearbooks struck a chord in my heart. I didn't want to be just a picture in a yearbook that no one remembered. I realized that there were teachers in our school's history that I had never heard about before (which is rare) and that sort of scared me. If we had made so many sacrifices to be here, I wanted people to know about it by golly.
We think if we do something 'wonderful', we should be remembered for it. But the truth is, even if it is as 'wonderful' as living and working in China, in 50 years---who will know about it? In 100 years, will anyone know our names or our story? Recently, I've heard stories of the work foreigners have done in this country 80 or 100 years ago. It's amazing stuff. Even in the barest details, it sounds adventurous, courageous, bold, and speaks of tremendous obedience. They were smart, they were brave, and they worked for YEARS without packages from their homeland or skype or email or facebook or blogs. They had to learn the language on their own and fight extra hard for anything to be accomplished. Yet, who knows of them? Sometimes, the areas that they impacted did not see long-term benefits. So it seems....futile.
Compared to my life, they were extraordinary individuals doing indescribable work for the Lord. How can I expect to be more than them? To be remembered better than they?
It's really quite selfish.
Letting go of your right to 'make a difference in the world' to have a 'legacy' is yet another form of surrender. Yet, I still hope that I live on in the hearts of my former students, and that they will be able to remember my name in their old age. I know that the chances of them remembering anything I taught them are slim. I mean, what do you remember from third grade?
So it saddened me that my legacy really was insignificant in a global, long-term way. It's humbling to think of your life like that. It's really just a speck. Even the great things we do are filthy rags. Where is the encouragement in this? Where is the hope?
All I can say is that teaching was never about me. Coming to China was never about me. It has to be about the Lord, or else it means nothing at all. My legacy is nothing without Him---I mean, apart from Him, I am nothing! If the students remember anything, I hope it has something to do with God's light in me.
I often wonder about those students. Some are still in Shenyang (or other cities in China), but others have moved on to places like Myanmar, Holland, Morocco, and Taiwan. They, at least, have impacted me.
Anyway, my point is that our legacies mean nothing apart from God. However, we are called to follow Him in obedience and worship Him despite of our circumstances. In a way, it's the moment that counts. How are you living your life, at this very moment? That is your legacy.
I had wondered, what was the point of teaching for only two years? Where is the impact in that? Where is the legacy? He revealed to me that although it might have seemed short lived, at that time it was what He wanted me to do. And it was good. Now, I'm on to the next thing He wants me to do. And that's good too.