December 9, 2013

Plans for Spring 2014

I am so excited to be able to teach college English courses in the Spring. I have wanted to be a college-level instructor for over 20 years, and truthfully, I never thought I would have the chance to teach. First, I didn't have the Master's degree required; and second, I didn't have the teaching experience, which would allow me to apply for teaching positions.

It has taken a long time, a very long time, to get the degree and to be given the opportunity to teach. I am excited and a little nervous. Yet, I feel confident that I am in a good place, and that the Lord has provided everything I need to become a college English instructor.

As I consider His gift to me, I stand amazed that He cared for my dreams and heart's desire. Then I am reminded of this Psalm:

About 7 years ago, I started praying through the Psalms. I set about to pray the Psalms each day for 150 days. I was so blessed by the experience that I repeated it three times total. When I got to day 150, I started over with Psalm 1. Over that time, I came to find Psalm 37, verses 4-6, especially appealing to me. I took them to heart believing that if I committed my way to the Lord, He would keep His promise to David, and give him (me - by extension), the desires of my heart.

Back then, I didn't know that teaching was a desire of my heart. It took time for me to reflect back on the choices I had made as a young person, and to consider the path I had chosen. I knew that attending graduate school was a desire, a strong desire, but I didn't know that teaching, in particular was something I felt about so strongly.

As a young college student, I considered teaching as a career option. I was bent on being an artist, but after some unpleasant experiences in those foundational art classes, I changed my mind. I floundered for a long time, changing my major, and finally deciding on Liberal Studies (General Ed). I remember the time when I did think about being a teacher. I remember it vividly. I was in between boyfriends, and I had suffered a very bad breakup. I was miserable. I was sad. I was lonely. In my time of need, I cried out to God, and I begged Him to help me, to rescue me. He did that for me, and I remember when He called to me -- beckoning me toward Him, to His comfort and to His rest. I entered that rest, and I was blessed. I remember the feeling I had, the feeling that I was OK, and that everything bad was going to go away and I would survive the heartache. The problem then was my family (I blame them of course). They didn't like that I was so sad, and they wanted me to "date" again. You know, get back on the horse, so to speak. It is a cultural thing that says when you grieve, the best course of action is to suppress your feelings, and get back out there. I didn't want to date. I didn't want to date anyone again. I wanted to be free of boys, and I wanted to concentrate on my new found love -- the Lord.

I remember the day when I announced to my family that I was not going to date again. They laughed at me. They said I was crazy, and that my mind would change soon enough (as soon as some good looking boy gave me his interest). I said that I had made up my mind to become a school teacher, and that I wasn't going to date anyone again. I was mortified by the response of my family. I remember leaving in tears, walking outside, and thinking how badly I was hurt by their comments. After all, the Lord had pressed this desire on my heart (I felt so certain), and I believed that I had received a "sign" from Him (back then I was very into signs, thanks to some Biblical teachers who taught that God still used signs to communicate with His people).

I had received a sign telling me to transfer to San Jose Bible College (perhaps San Jose Christian then), and to study education. I was to forgo the relationship aspect of my young life and concentrate on God. I felt a calling to ministry, a strong pull toward missions, but I wasn't certain that was what the Lord wanted for me. I just felt so confirmed that the path I was to follow was through teaching, and that the Lord had a plan for my life (my miserable messed up life).

I didn't follow on those plans. I listened to my family, and I did what I thought they wanted from me. I finished my education at the community college, and I met a man whom I believed would help me escape from the pressure of my family. I love my family. I love them immensely, but back then, they treated me as a silly girl, especially when it came to matters of faith. They scolded me for being emotional about the Lord, for not using reason and logic, and for listening to people (Pastors and teachers) who taught about Jesus in a personal way. Mind you, I was raised in a traditional Christian home. Church and God and Jesus -- well -- they were part of the whole package of being in my family. The expectation was that you would attend church, be actively involved, pray in private, and generally, be social -- but you would not be emotional or into "Jesus" or missions or anything super-spiritual. Nope, that was not acceptable, and they made it clear that my emotional outburst and my desire for a relationship with God was only a passing fancy, a substitution for a man and marriage.

The problem, of course, was that this so-called passing fancy, didn't pass away. My desire for God didn't diminish, and it didn't go away. I suffered in silence, and I longed for an escape. I wanted to be free from my family, and the only way I could be free was to marry someone who had the means to take me away. I didn't believe I could do it on my own (silly girl) nor was my faith strong enough and mature enough to understand that God intended on making a way for me -- He had a way in mind -- if only I would trust Him.

The path I chose of course was to marry. I married a good man, a nice man, a flawed man. I married into a solidly Christian family (a powerful, well-known family). I married a Christian heritage. I married a dream of happiness and family stability whereby Jesus was first and foremost in the center of everything. I thought I was saved. I thought I had found my way out of the pressure cooker that was my family.

Instead, I exchanged one set of pressures for another more powerful and more demanding set of pressures. My new family was far more aggressive and far more demonstrative than my old. I found myself confronting controlling individuals who had plans and desires for me that were not in alignment with God or even with my own flawed sense of self. In short, I was on a roller coaster ride of being manipulated by people who were far better equipped to manipulate than this little sheltered and ill-equipped girl could handle.

I suffered greatly, and I was miserable for so many years. I made the best of it, of course, and I told myself that this was the life I had chosen. I had made this decision, and I had turned my back on the desire God had put into my heart for teaching and for a life of ministry and missions work. I willed myself to believe that somehow this WAS His plan for my life, and that the sign I had received pointing me to my husband was right. I didn't want to acknowledge that I believed a sign when in reality there was no sign at all.

A very long time ago, I played a game, a game that was forbidden in my house. It was a dare from my grade school friends, and I can remember the day like it was yesterday. We were sitting on the back porch of my house, and we played with the Ouija board. I was very sheltered back then, a mere child of 10-11. I believed in ghosts and scary things, and in fact, I experienced some scary things (seeing things, visions, etc.) I didn't want to play with it because my Mom said we shouldn't. I did it anyway, on a dare, and this is what the Ouija board said to me. It said I would marry a man named David H. and I would have one child. Ok, so weird as that may sound, back then, everyone of my friends just laughed. There was a boy on our street named David Harrison and he was one of those nasty, mean little boys who tormented everyone. He came from a nasty and mean family and no one liked him. My friends teased me saying that I would marry this nasty little boy. Of course, I was mortified by what the board said, and later on, I thought that one of my friends had pushed that little oracle round the board.

Still, over the years, I remembered that prophecy (whether fake or not, it seemed eerily accurate). Some 10-11 years later, I met a man named David, and his last name started with an H. I married this man, and I had one child by him. I thought that when I met him it must have been a sign because all those years ago, that silly board told me whom I would marry.

Now, here I sit. I am no longer married (technically I am, but living singly). I am a 51 year old woman who has come full-circle in her life. I married a man who was not meant for me. We have come to terms with that truth. He wanted to marry someone else, and he was rejected by her. He married me instead. He held his heart to her, and he never gave his heart to me. The marriage was doomed from the start because there was a soul-tie to this other woman, and for nearly 25 years, my husband longed for her and not for me. We were friends, and we still are friends. We were never lovers, the kind of romantic married lovers who long for each other. We were companions who lived together and who struggled together and who suffered together. He suffered the loss of the woman he loved and believed he was meant to marry. I suffered to loss of the Husband to whom I was to be married. We tried married life, and we made the very best of it. It wasn't always unhappy, but it wasn't always happy either. It was painful and difficult. We were poverty stricken and we never rowed together. He went his way, and I followed, mostly. Often, we just rowed round and round, never really getting anywhere at all.

We are blessed with a God-given child. We are united in our commitment to be there for him, especially now that he is almost an adult. But, we are no longer united in marriage. The divorce is not final, and I am not sure when it will be. We are resolved to live separated lives, and to pursue what each of us believes is God's will for our lives.

My life has taken a turn for the wonderful, and I cannot help but believe that I am right where I am supposed to be. I can only say that God has provided abundantly for me, and while I do not seek signs anymore (LOL!) I still do believe that God intervenes in our lives in the most brilliant ways. I have come to trust Him, to rely upon Him, and to rest in Him. In truth, I am living in a way that fills me so completely. I cannot even begin to describe the soul satisfaction that I feel each day when I think about where I am and where I am going. God has done this for me, and He has given me the desire of my heart.

The desire, of course, is not to teach. That was only part of His plan for me. No, the desire was to know Him personally, and to be in a relationship with Him, such to the extent, that I would desire no other person, no other man. He is my Husband, and He is the Lover of my soul. I am blessed, and I am contented with the knowledge that God is my Father and my Provider and Protector. God has His rightful place in my life, and everything is ordered around Him. As such, everything I do now is based on His choice for my life. He leads me and I follow Him. He directs my path, and I walk on it. In doing so, I experience great joy and complete satisfaction in the "going," in the way I am going. He has provided a way for me, a way that fills me up, and keeps me joyful. I may struggle, and I do (so often I do), but the underlying foundation is predicated upon Him; and therefore, I can rest in and through those struggles.

So with 2014 looming upon us (in a short 22 days), I can look forward to this new year with excitement and with a sense of profound awe. God has worked a miracle in my life. He has made a way for me, and while I can never take back the past, I can understand my motivation that led to the choices I made. I can see the truth in reflection, and I can accept the honest realization that I followed a path not designed for me. God is a God of Mercy, and He kept me, even though I was walking and living in a way that was not what he had planned for me. He kept me and He cared for me. I suffered, but through it all, He was there for me. He patiently waited for me to turn to Him, to give Him preference in my life, and to acknowledge that I had walked away from Him, from what He had called me to do. When I humbled myself before Him, and admitted what I had done, He opened up the heavens and rained down His Mercy and Grace. I was set free, and while that process, wasn't easy (it was devastating to me), He never let me go. He walked me through the fire, and the great sadness. He carried me when I could not walk any further, and when I was crushed, He covered me with His Wings, and He sheltered me.

I am alive today because of His Mercy. I am free today because of His Grace. I am able to walk on and to follow after Him because He has made a way for me. I thank Him and I praise Him for He is my God, my King, and my Savior.

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