May 23, 2014

Life Lessons

I was out yesterday, enjoying the beautiful weather (only in the high 80s when it normally is 100 plus), and doing some shopping, when I realized just how much my life has changed over the past month or so. I mean, my life has been upended and drastically altered -- from the standpoint of where I was only at the beginning of the year.

Let me explain...

I started the new year off with excitement and expectancy. I had my first ever teaching contract (whoohoo!) from Grand Canyon University, and I was heading into what I thought would be (and rightfully so) the most difficult semester of my life at Regent University. I was overwhelmed at working part-time, teaching one class, and completing my Quantitative Research course. In fact, the main reason I quit my job at CVS Caremark in August 2013, was to transition to teaching part-time. I knew then that it would be difficult for me to work full-time in Corporate work and complete my doctoral studies.

Still, the thought of working part-time, going to school full-time, and making ends meet, scared me. I have bills, you know, expenses and a part-time salary was not going to cut it. I knew that the Lord would provide for me, but I was shaking on the inside every time a bill came due. How would I pay it? Would there be enough money to cover the costs?

Friends and family questioned whether I was making the best decision for my life. They asked if I really thought going to graduate school, taking more student loans, and pursuing a PhD was "worth the cost and the effort." Would I get a job afterwards? What about my age? Would that be a factor? How would I pay off the high cost of doctoral studies working part-time as an adjunct instructor? Some even suggested I drop out of the program. Some said that it was part of my "breaking out, breaking away" from my marriage (sort of a mid-life crisis, a reconnecting with missed dreams and past opportunities). Some believed me when I said that it was the Lord's will for my life. Some just shook their heads, not saying anything, even though their look said everything to me. I did have some comments that were pejorative, you know, the "cloaked ones" where the words say "we support you," but the intention is clearly "you are crazy, dead wrong!"

I left that job in August and started teaching at GCU. I didn't think I would like teaching that well. I was panicked over my performance, and I thought I was out of my league when it came to knowing how to teach. Even though I had oodles of teaching experience -- in church mostly and in business -- I felt unprepared to teach college courses. Then came my chance to teach in the Spring, and I weathered that first course. I also completed my courses at Regent. I survived it all. I survived teaching and school work.

I wasn't sure what the Lord had in mind for me as far as teaching for fall, but I trusted Him to provide. I thought "how am I going to survive this summer?" I have no income, no money coming in to replenish what is going out. I panicked again thinking that this was a bad decision, a bad choice for me. I am going to be 52 this year, and this (teaching part-time) is something married women do, women who have a husband with a good job, good income, good benefits. This is not the job for a single woman who has responsibilities.

Then the Lord opened my eyes to new possibilities, to new opportunities, to new ways of thinking about my situation. I wasn't sure I believed Him at first. I wasn't sure I trusted Him to know that His plans were good, would cover me, would take care of me. My two greatest needs are financial security and physical protection. I have blogged about this before, but growing up the way I did, and then living the way I did for so long (in marriage), I learned to fear not having enough (of everything), and not being safe in my home. These two needs have ruled my life since I was a little girl. Now as a grown woman my safety and security rests with the One in whom I have absolute trust. He is my shield and my buckler. He is my strong tower, my refuge and my strength.

Now I am able to sit back and reflect on all that He has done in my life. As I consider my path, where I was and where I am now and where I will be --> over there (in the future), I see His hand print and His timing on everything. He has placed me in the position of His choosing. He has given me the grace to accept my situation, my circumstances. He has enabled me to step out of my former marriage and into the blessed peace of new freedom. He has shown me that He is sufficient to meet my needs, and to champion my cause. He has moved me, changed me, and grown me exponentially to the point that I am able to say "Yes, Lord!" to whatever He asks of me. If He says "go here" then I go to where He leads. If He says "trust me" then I trust in His Word. If He says "rest" then I know I have to let go of what I am holding on to so tightly, and let Him have control over the thing, the person, or the circumstance.

I am learning life lessons every day that I walk with Him. I am learning that He is worthy of my trust and that I can rely upon His Word to me. I am learning that I am not alone, that there are other people out there who love me, care for me, and seek my good. I am learning that I no longer have to live in fear of failure, of financial crisis, or of physical harm. Yes, I am learning that He is Sufficient, and that in His SUFFICIENCY there is completeness, abundance, and peace. He is my rock, my redeemer and my refuge. I am learning to rest in Him and to let Him lead and guide me into the life of His choosing, His purpose, and His plan. He is good, so very good!

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