April 23, 2014

Bittersweet Moments

Today is my last teaching day at Grand Canyon University. I am filled with such bitter-sweetness right now as I am happy the semester is over, but so very sad that I will not see my students again. I never thought it would be so difficult to say good-bye to these awesome young adults.

As I consider the past 6-9 months and I think about all that has changed for me, I am filled with awe and wonder at the way God has orchestrated the details of my life.

Last July, I made the decision to follow my heart and leave CVS Caremark (to leave a very good, but incredibly stressful analyst position) for teaching. My heart has wanted to "try" teaching since I was an undergraduate at SJSU. I believed then as I believe now that I was meant to be a teacher. It wasn't my calling, but rather, it was a chosen profession for me. It was something I would do, would be good at, and would do to provide for myself (a career for me). Of course, I never followed through on becoming a teacher. I have blogged about this before, about the choices I made, which took me in a completely different direction. Now that I think about it, I recall that I really felt the push toward teaching when I was still a student at Evergreen Valley Community College. I was so lost back then, such a baby, clueless as to the ways of the world. I floated through those years, doing the bare minimum, trying to make sense out of my emotions, my thoughts, my wants and my dreams. I changed majors too many times to count, and I ended up graduating with an AA degree in Liberal Studies (art concentration). Still, I can remember thinking that perhaps I needed to transfer to our local Christian school, a Bible college, and complete a BA in Education. I thought about teaching elementary or high school education and using my art background as a secondary subject area. Instead, I ended up getting married, going to work in the high-tech industry, and putting off "college" for a good six years.

When I did return to school, I was much older and much wiser. The second time around mattered since my parents were not paying for my education. I was responsible, and I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could be a good student. I did just that -- becoming a President's Scholar -- and graduating with a much improved GPA. I also graduated with the new idea of becoming a teacher. This time though the idea was not to teach education at elementary or high school, but to go on to become a college Professor.

My son's birth interrupted that plan as did the fact that my husband didn't want me to continue on at school. He was tired of spending the money for me to go to school, and he didn't support the idea of me becoming a teacher. I firmly believed that God wanted me to follow this path, yet in submission to my husband, I chose to be a SAHM. I dove into the role of Godly wife and mother, and I devoted my time and my attention to being the best wife and Mom I could be.

In my heart, however, I never forgot that pushing of the Holy Spirit. In fact, at least once every couple years, I would find myself weeping uncontrollably over what I believed was a failure on my part to follow His leading. I would cry it out, surrender it to the Lord, and then move on. The blessing was that each time I laid my hearts desire at His feet, He gave me the strength to pick up my cross and bear it.

I would never have thought back then that there would still be hope for me to become a teacher. I would never have even believed that someday I would return to college and graduate with a Masters and a PhD degree. Yet, here I am today, well on my way to doing just that amazing feat.

Last year, it was so difficult for me to trust the Lord. I knew I needed a different job. CVS Caremark and Regent were not going to mix, so early in April 2013, I began looking for a new position. I tried to find internal jobs and then later began to search externally. I considered going back into Web Design for a time, being self-employed again. I also thought about going back into higher education. I tried unsuccessfully to find teaching jobs. It seemed all the schools wanted 3-5 years of experience and even with my Masters and my good grades, I didn't make the cut.

In July, I took a chance and applied at GCU. I was surprised when I received a call to interview. I went to that interview and while I didn't get a teaching job, I did get a IA position. The pay was $11 per hour, and I was told I could help teach in 3 classes. I thought this was impossible -- how could I live on $11 per hour? I had a car payment, a townhouse, and bills to pay. How could I leave a salaried position for an hourly wage?

I took the job because clearly the Lord opened the door. I mean it was a weird "supernatural" experience to walk in, interview, and be hired on the spot. I thought "the Lord wants me to do this" so I said yes and was hired that same day.

I started at GCU last August with the intention of assisting for one semester. The experience was less than satisfactory, and mid semester, I left for a position as a Business Analyst. I needed the money or so I told myself, and I needed stability. I couldn't live on hourly pay.

Three weeks into that job, a well-paying and good job, I left it. I knew it was the wrong place for me and I was miserable the entire time I was driving to work, at work, and driving home from work. I spent the day in tears -- literally in tears -- crying out to the Lord because it was SO wrong for me.

GCU was gracious and they accepted me back. This time as an adjunct teacher with a contract for one class in the Spring. I jumped at the opportunity, knowing that I couldn't live on adjunct pay either. I made one mistake before, in not trusting the Lord to provide, and I was bound and determined not to do it again.

So I have completed my one semester contract, and I have lived off my savings and financial aid. It has not been fun for me -- I am so desperately dependent on income -- by nature a planner and secure analyst. Still, I believed that God knew what He was doing, and that He opened and closed doors to help me see His plan for my life.

Last month, I interviewed at Arizona Christian University. It was a whim, a chance encounter divinely ordered, and I ended up with a teaching contract for Fall. I am blessed, doubly blessed, but still uncertain how I will make ends meet through the long and very hot summer!

With all this in mind, I think back on those tentative days when I was afraid of everything. I remember how I ran because of fear -- away from God's plan for my life -- and hid among the safety net of a good paying job. Yes, a good paying job is a wonderful thing. I would welcome a good paying job any day. But, when the Lord desires you to do one thing, and you desire another, it can make any good paying job into a seriously miserable experience. Such was my experience, such was my case.

Today, I go into class for the last time. I wish my students the best of success as they continue on in their careers. I will pray for them, and I will remember them fondly because they were my first students ever! My very first students! I will love them always, and I will cherish their comments, their disapproval, and their disinterest in reading these stories. I will use this experience as a stepping stone to move into a full-time teaching career. I will take everything I have learned from GCU, and this one class, and use it to be a better teacher next semester. Lord willing, I will become the best teacher I can be, and I will do the will of the Lord. He leads me, He guides me, and I go where He sends me. I am His, and He is mine. I can think of no better ending to this story then to say that I am where I belong -- finally -- after some 30 years in the making I am a teacher. I am proud to say that I teach college. I am blessed, and I am loved, and I am good.

No comments: