April 10, 2015

Decision Made

So can I say that I am relieved? Yes, I can!

I have spent the past three months in torment, literal torment. I have waffled, I have struggled, and I have been so confused over the way to go. All along I have tried to convince myself that I was doing the right thing, going the right way, and making the right choice. Yet, I had no peace, no real sense of peace. I had contentment for sure, but only in the fact that I felt OK in the midst of the turmoil. It was like I was in a boat floating down a white water river. The current was raging, but I was safely inside the boat. So while I was frightened at the water, I wasn't afraid of being up dumped or cast aside. No, I felt safe and secure, but I certainly didn't feel good about the waves or the torrent.

My issue has been with the path I am currently on, and whether I should remain where I am or seek another way. I have been praying, and praying, and  praying about it, but I simply couldn't figure out why I felt the way I did. I didn't have peace, real peace, about what I was doing. I felt like I was safe in that boat, but whenever I tried to steer the boat this way or that, the waves would crash hard against me, and would knock me back. The more I tried to steer the boat, the more I found the process difficult. In fact, the process was near impossible, and the more I tried, the more tired I became, and the more I felt utterly useless.

Today, I made up my mind to go with the river. Today, I decided to stop trying to steer the boat, and instead, sit back and let the river take me where it wants to go. Let me explain...

Psalm 46:10 says "Be still, and know that I am God." Yes, this is one of my life verses. I recite this verse often, mostly when I feel like I am struggling or wrestling against Almighty God. I have spent two years struggling with God. Yes, I have tried so hard to go my own way, and even though I protest that I am 100% "all-in" as far as following after Him, I still struggle to have my own way. I try so hard to figure things out, to know what to do, and to be in control. The Lord is patient, so very patient with me, and He gives me time to wear myself out. Sometimes, I need a little time (praise be to God), but other times, I seem to take months to let go. Did I say I was stubborn and hard-headed? Yes, I admit it. I am very stubborn, very hard-headed, and at times downright, willful. God is good, so very good, and He knows me well. I am thankful that I am forgiven, and that He patiently waits for me to stop striving. He tells me "Rest, Carol. Rest." I don't do it. I try to rest, honest, I do. But I typically rest for two minutes before I start wrestling with Him again.

Yesterday was a horrible day for me. I was so sick, so very sick. Not only was I in terrible pain, but I also felt sick, like flu-sick. I had my long day teaching, so the very thought of going to teach and stand for 4 hours was scary. I ended up making it through my first class, and I cut my second class short. But then I went and stood in line at Walmart, and thanks to the Lord, didn't end up sicker because of the crush of people. I made it home, was able to complete my assignment (due last night), and by 10:00, was ready to rest, really rest.

I woke up this morning feeling so much better. I was refreshed, really refreshed. I slept well, didn't dream much, and generally, was able to get out of bed with little to no pain. God is good, so very good to me!

I sat down at the computer to begin my day, when I felt so oppressed that I decided instead to spend time with the Lord. I wanted this oppression to be over, you know, to STOP RIGHT NOW. I prayed, asked the Lord for His help, and I stood my ground against the enemies attack. The oppression stopped, praise be to God, and I was able to sit at the computer and start my day. Good thing too, because shortly afterward, I confessed my need to the Lord and asked Him to help me "right this wrong ship," if you know what I mean. I asked to be released from the stress, the struggle, and the strain of whatever I was doing. Ha! I asked the Lord to help me stop wrestling with Him, and guess what? He did just that -- He helped me stop, and He gave me rest.

I sat at the computer for a little while, praying and talking with the Lord, before I felt Him impress on me the way to go. I mean, I felt Him say to me "Let's start again." I was so relieved, so relieved because like I said, I have felt as though the boat I was in was being tossed and turned by every wave, and while I felt safe, I didn't like what was happening to me. After a little while, I began to feel at ease, at rest. Oh, blessed rest. I haven't felt at rest for near on three months. I mean, I felt this sense of peace come over me, and I began to relax and to let things go. I let everything go. I let go my desire to have my own way, my hope for a future, and my need to determine outcomes. I let it all go. It was such a blessed feeling to lay back and let the river take me to where it wanted to go. I thought "this is how it is supposed to feel" and then I relaxed and realized that my attempts to control my outcome caused all the upset, the torment, and the turmoil in my life. Yes, the enemy took advantage of me, and he sought to keep me confused and confounded, but I was the one who started the whole mess, I was the one who set the events in motion.

It started back in January when I applied for an administrative position at Auburn University. The Lord had laid Auburn on my heart earlier in the year (in December), but I hadn't really thought about it much because I knew the timing wasn't right. Then in January, I was over at the school website and I took a gander at the job's board. I saw all the faculty needs, and I realized that I would not be hired as faculty until I was ready to graduate with my PhD. They might hire me as ABD, but that was still a good year off so I gave up the thought of moving there to teach. Still, I felt like the Lord wanted me to consider it, so I browsed through the website. I looked at faculty and non-faculty positions and I saw the post for the e-Portfolio Administrator position. It aligned so well with my education, my research, and my interests so I asked the Lord if I could apply. He said yes, and I did. It was the first time I considered that perhaps the Lord wanted me to do something other than teach. I had been on the teacher path for a year, and I was struggling with it. I wasn't sure I liked it, whether it was a good fit for me, and I was upset at the lack of pay for teaching adjunct. It was a perfect storm, really, and the enemy jumped on the band wagon to start to persuade me to think about doing something else, something less demanding and something that offered more pay.

I knew the Lord had a job in mind for me at Auburn, and I hoped it was the admin role. Shortly after applying for that position, the Lord asked me to look at another job. This time it was for faculty - an instructor position in Communication. I recoiled immediately because it was something I didn't know how to do. It was something I felt was outside my frame of reference. Yet, He pressed me to apply, and I did. I had to wait two months to find out the outcome, and in the interim, I applied for another admin role. So in all, I applied three times to Auburn, and then I waited. During this time, my mind began to lead me to question whether I wanted to teach full-time or work in some other capacity. As the days passed, I began anxious about not hearing anything. Finally, I saw the "not selected" update on the first position. The second and third are still undecided. It has been nearly three months and I have not received a "yea or nay" on those two positions. I panicked, of course, at the thought of the long-drought this summer, and I started to look at other non-academic positions. I applied for a work-from-home job through Aetna the other day. It is a good job, pays well, and would be something I could easily do. Is this the Lord's will for me? Is this what He wants?

I should say that the pressure I feel at home has contributed to my panicked state. I had to shell out $1k for my son's car last week. I am worried about paying for my trip to Regent, and the thought of visiting my friend in AL, seems difficult now. I do have teaching contracts on tap for fall, but my income will be low again, and that path seems so hard for me to tolerate. My parents health needs are such a major concern, and I worry over my finances. It all seems too much for me -- the waves seemed to be crashing over the sides of the boat.

Still, I felt safe and secure, I just didn't like the look of the water swirling and crashing around me. I didn't like the pace, and I didn't like what I was experiencing. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted to go back to the place where I was at rest, at peace, and I didn't want to go "this way" anymore.

Then, all of a sudden, the waves ceased, and the water smoothed to a slow pace. I felt the crash of the waves roll away, and the boat slowly eased on its merry way. I laid back, and I felt the swoosh of the current as it carried me forward. I felt at ease, at peace, and I felt so good.

So what has happened today?

Well, first off, I stopped wrestling with the Lord. Second, I decided to let Him lead me and that means I am resting in His provision for my future. I have decided that whatever He determines as best is truly best. There is no "better" because everything He does is good. Third, I decided that the path I am on is the path of becoming a teacher, a full-time teacher. I may not like the pay (not now anyway) or the fact that I feel a there may not be a good job down the road (only the Lord knows that for sure), but I can take faith in knowing that no matter what, I am doing the "thing" the Lord desires me to do right now. I am a teacher, a good teacher, and I am teaching students that He has chosen for me to teach. I don't know what next fall will bring, but I see now that I am not to look anywhere off this path. This is the way I am to go. I may not understand how I will make ends meet nor what I will do eventually, but this is the path I am on, and the Lord desires me to stay put.

My decision has been made, and I am relieved. I am staying put as a teacher, working in this line of work, until the Lord moves me elsewhere. I updated my resume and I wrote a generic letter -- ready -- should the Lord ask me to apply to another teaching job. The position at Auburn is still open. I feel that there was a reason why the Lord asked me to apply to it. Perhaps it was to test the waters, so to speak, or perhaps it was because this really is His desire for me. I don't know, but I do believe that nothing He asks me to do will return void. The Lord does test us in order to show us our faith or lack of faith. Perhaps applying to Auburn simply was a test to show me that I wasn't believing in the Lord's provision for me, and that I was still holding onto my own belief in controlling outcomes. I needed a job -- so I looked for a job. I needed more income -- so I ran after the job that offered the most income. Instead of waiting on the Lord to provide, I was seeking to solve the problem through human understanding and wisdom. Perhaps this was the whole point of this exercise, to once more show me where my faith rests. I say it rests in God alone, but then I seek man-made provision instead of waiting, of trusting, and of relying on the Lord alone.

Yes, I think this is the case.

Does this mean that I will not go to Auburn University for work? I don't know. I don't know if this is the plan the Lord has for my life or not. I know that whatever the plan He has in mind, it will be good, very good. I cannot control the outcome anymore. I cannot navigate the boat. I can only let the river of His will take me to the place of His choosing. I can rest. I can relax, and I can enjoy the ride. I just cannot be captain, navigator or the one in charge. No, I resigned that role at the foot of the cross some 40 years ago (and so many times since then). I am His servant, and I go where He sends me. I go to do the work He has prepared for me to do. I go and I do what He asks. He provides the resources, and He provides the outcomes. I simply follow His lead.

Thank you, Lord for helping me today. Thank you for your blessed rest, your peace, and the contentment that comes from knowing I am right where I belong. Thank you for all you do for me, in me, and through me. Thank you, Lord for being my King, my Ruler, my Savior, and my Lord. Thank you, Lord, thank you!

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