April 6, 2015

Waiting and Seeking

Today is one of those days when I wonder if the Lord has a plan for my life, and if He does, whether He will reveal it to me anytime soon? I know, I know...I blog about the plans the Lord has for me, and I state emphatically that I believe that the Lord does have a plan for my life, and that His plan is a good one. Yet, here I am today, questioning what He is doing, His timing in it all, and wondering whether anything will come to pass, anything at all. It is frustrating to say the least, and I am getting to that "grind" place, where everything I do seems to be such a dull, difficult, and disappointing mess. UGH!

It is a good Monday, by the way. I thought I should mention that fact simply because today is a good day, and the Lord has made it, and therefore, I will rejoice and be glad in that fact! I may not like my situation at present, and I may feel pinched and pulled in uncomfortable ways, but nonetheless, I know my life is blessed, thoroughly and wonderfully blessed. God is good, He is so good to me.

It is 11:11 a.m. (how about that?) and I am sitting here blogging away when I should be preparing for my lesson today. Actually, I don't need to prepare anything because my PPTs are already done, and other than reviewing them before class, I am really good to go. I know there are other things I could be doing, but generally, I am in good shape so I am blogging to help ease my mind. I blog for a number of reasons, rarely does it have anything to do with ministering to others. Almost always, I blog for my own personal needs, to give me something to do, to discuss (with myself) some issue that seems to weigh on my mind. Often, it is prompted by the Holy Spirit, some feeling or inspiration bubbles up in my soul and I feel the need to write about my experience. I write, therefore, I am. Yes, I love to write, and I enjoy the process of self-reflection and personal introspection.

So getting back to the point at hand...

Hebrews 11:6 says that "God rewards those who diligently seek Him." I like this verse (I love the Book of Hebrews) because it reminds me that our desire should be for the Lord, and that our efforts in seeking Him, seeking His will or His wisdom, never are fruitless pursuits. The Lord is always in control of the time, and while we may not like the fact that we are waiting on Him to move or to open a door of opportunity, it doesn't change the fact that the Lord knows what He is doing. Especially, in regard to His will for His children's lives. I believe this is so, I believe it is so!

I have been diligently seeking the Lord regarding a career move for a long time now. I would say that I have been seeking the Lord on this point for the past five years. If I am honest, it has been for the past ten years, but I wasn't convinced really that I was supposed to do something different, I just felt this desire to do something different. A lot of time has passed by, and I am in a different place now. I have more education, more recent work experience, and I am seeking a career position (of some sort) to settle my life, to be done with the movement, the focus on work.

The Lord has provided some good work to me over the past five years. I have enjoyed working for the various companies, but now I would like to pick one way and stick with it. If I am to teach, so be it. If I am to do some other kind of work, so be it. I just want to be settled. No more waffling back and forth, going this way or that way. Just straight on to being settled, established, and done.

I am at the mid-point in my education, and perhaps my need for being finished is wrapped up in that fact. I mean, I have five classes left to complete for my PhD. I will be done with my classes come December, and then I will be studying for my exams. Once I pass those exams, then I will begin writing my dissertation. I am very close to being finished. This begs the question: "What will you do with your PhD?" I mean, will I teach? I am teaching now, and a PhD normally means you will teach. I am open to teaching, but the thought of applying for teaching positions, well it unnerves me. It requires such "hoop jumping" and frankly, I am tired of all that none sense. I do like teaching, and I do like research. But I feel that I am so late to the game, so to speak. I can teach adjunct now forever, and that is a good thing. I just don't see myself getting hired as a full-time professor because of my age. I am 52, and while not old by any means, it is late to be entering higher education. If I leave teaching for a more lucrative position in corporate work, I feel that I am somehow lessening all my hard work, all my work the past five years. I did, after all, get my MA and PhD so I could teach. Why not stay put and follow this path?

I have been asking the Lord that same question for a while now. I mean, it does make sense. I teach, my education supports teaching, so I should just stay put. Yet, when I look at the process involved in teaching, I simply don't see how it can come to pass. I mean, I can teach part-time easily, but not full-time. Full-time is a big racket and you gotta play the game. Scholarship, conferences, etc. It is dog-eat-dog and frankly, I don't do politics and dogs.

If I go out of teaching, and find some other line of work, then I have to deal with the questions "so why did you get a PhD if you weren't going to teach?" Hmmm? The answer is easy. I got my PhD because the Lord said "do it." I did it. He provided. I excelled. I am ready (close to) graduate. I did it because He asked me to do it. Explain that to a secular employer, huh? No way. They won't get it, and you will appear to be overeducated and lacking practical experience.

Yet, I have never felt "called to teach." I do it because I can, but I have never felt the "call" to teach. I feel the call to minister, to equip, to encourage, but these are gifts of the Holy Spirit that I use however and whenever He desires me to do so. I just don't feel called to teach. I like teaching. I like spending time with my students, and I see the value I impart to them. However, teaching is just a job. I hate to say it that way because it makes it sound like I am not grateful for the experience. May it never be said that way! I am thankful to experience teaching, and I know how blessed I am to do it. It is just that it is not my 100% favorite thing to do. I like it, aspects of it, but I am not dying to teach every single day. No, in truth, I look forward to my days off, my breaks, and the end of the semester. What does that mean?

So I have asked the Lord if what I am feeling is correct. Am I ungrateful for the opportunity to teach? Or am I simply being realistic with the fact that I don't like it all that much, but it works well for me right now while I am finishing my classes?

Perhaps that is the answer. Perhaps that is the answer I have sought for so diligently, but was unwilling to accept? Yes, I remember the Lord saying to me that teaching was a good choice for me while I was working toward my PhD. Why? Because it offered maximum flexibility and time off to focus on my school work. In fact, I remember praying about teaching, wanting to try it, and the Lord said "yes, I may try it." As I recall now, He also said that I would work part-time until I finished my PhD.

Okay, so I am almost finished with my coursework. Perhaps the reason I feel this need to move, to do something different is that I see the end of my program, and I am sensing that it is time to move on.

What do I do next?

Interesting. WOW! Oh so interesting.

I have been stressing over staying in teaching for the past six months. In truth, I really haven't liked the work that much. I like curriculum development and people building, but I don't like the standing all day, the prep work, the grading, and the stress of performance. I love the days off, the summers and holidays. But it is the other stuff, the work stuff, that I don't particularly like. I do like discussing culture studies. I do like the idea of being a professor. I like the "title" and the job description. I like that people go "Oh, that sounds so interesting" whenever I tell them what I do for a living. I love discussing my research, and sharing my ideas, my thoughts, and my speculations about society. Yes, I like being a scholar and a professor. I just don't like teaching students.

Hmmm.

I have done many other things over the course of my life. Some I have liked, some I have loathed. I guess in all of these jobs, the thing I wanted most was to be taken seriously as a person of high intelligence. I have always felt undervalued in my work. I mean, people have treated me as though I wasn't very smart when in fact, I was (am) very smart. More so, I have worked in low level positions, under supervisors and managers and directors, who clearly were not as skilled as I was. They had the "experience" so they were in those positions. I guess I felt that I would be recognized in higher education for my advanced study. I didn't have to compete because I would be accepted as "smart." Everyone in higher education has an advanced degree. Almost every person, whether admin or faculty, has some Masters degree. Some have multiples. It is a given.

In corporate work, you are your performance. Your skill and experience is valued more than your education. I felt that I would never be considered worthy, and that I would always work in low-level positions because I never did any one job, for any length of time.

The education disconnect still bugs me. If I stay in higher education, then my education aligns with my work. If I go back into corporate work, my education stands out as an oddity. Can I handle it? Can I accept the discontinuity of having a PhD but doing a job that requires a BA only? Sure, I can, but can my employer handle it? Will they think I am overeducated, under qualified. Perhaps they will, perhaps they will.

So what does that mean to me?

I have been applying for jobs for a while now, but nothing has come to pass. The positions at Auburn University were long-shots because I was not well-qualified (for faculty or admin work). In a competitive setting like a University, there are many well-qualified applicants. You have to be the best to be considered, and frankly, while I have excellent experience, my resume doesn't always show that to be the case. I haven't heard anything on these jobs. One closed and I did see the "Not considered" status change. The other two are still open, but since it has been over two months now, I feel that the status hasn't been updated to reflect the truth. Not considered. Yes, I have to think about moving elsewhere.

I really can move anywhere the Lord desires; it is just a matter of whether He chooses to keep me here in Phoenix for another year or if He will open a door someplace else. Right now, I am clueless, because if He didn't open the door in Auburn, then this means that He doesn't plan on me going there now or at all. What does this mean for my longterm status? Is this a closed door now or a forever closed door? I just don't know.

I have considered other locations: Atlanta, most recently, and Tampa (where my cousin lives). I have looked for work in these places and there are a number of jobs available. I am not thrilled with either location, but if the Lord wants me to go there, so be it. He knows the plans He has for me, and I am open to following after Him.

It is weird though to think about it, about moving. I don't really want to move across the USA. I don't want to stay in Phoenix, either. I loathe the heat. I am not super thrilled about the humidity. I don't want to live in the cold winter. I don't mind moving, really I don't. I just don't like the thought of moving my stuff, the cats, etc., and driving across the USA. Once I get settled, it will be great, I know it. It is the MOVING process that I don't like. Sigh.

Well, I am no further along in figuring out the Lord's will for my next steps. I feel that I am where I am today because this is the best place for me. I am teaching part-time in order to facilitate the completion of my coursework. I may remain in education, in teaching, or I may do something completely different. I guess the feeling I have is simply to help me know that the time is coming to a close, and that the Lord is indeed moving me --> somewhere. I just don't know where that place will be or when I will go. Maybe this summer. Maybe next year. Maybe after my exams. I just don't know.

I rest in His provision, however. I say I am content, and I think in truth, I am content. I don't like not knowing, but I am confident in the One who does know the details. I let go of my need to know, and I rest in the security of His provision. I wait, and I continue to seek Him for wisdom and guidance. Until He moves, until He says "Go here, apply here," I have to wait.

Waiting is so hard. It is so difficult. Yet, I feel this sense of peace about waiting, about letting this all be, and I feel that everything is going to be fine. I cannot explain it, but I just feel Okay about this decision, about letting my need to align my education with my work, and about leaving teaching behind for corporate work. I feel like "what does it matter, Carol?" I mean, I will be doing a good job and earning a fine living. I will be just like I am now -- no real difference -- doing good practical work. I guess when we come to the game late, you have to be willing to do whatever work is left over to do. I don't mind. I have never been career minded. I just would like to be done searching for work, and I would like to be about the business of living. I guess I am ready to be done with school, with temporary jobs, and with transitory housing. I want a settled and established life, with a house, a job, and a place to put down roots. I want to say "ah, rest!" and be done with it all. I am ready, Lord, I am so ready to be done.

Update: 04/06/15

After I wrote this post, I headed over to GCU to teach my Short Story class. The afternoon went well, and I packed up my briefcase and walked to my car. As I was heading over to my car, one of my IA's met up with me. He called out to me "Hey, Professor! How are you today?" I turned and laughed at him, shrugged my shoulders and said "I'm making it. How are you today?" As we walked over to our cars, we chit-chatted back and forth. I waved good-bye and I heard him say "I will see you tomorrow!" I thought to myself, "what if there are no more tomorrows at the end of this month?" My last day of class is officially April 24th. I have been counting down the days until my last day, and now I am thinking that if I change jobs, April 24th could really be my last day teaching.

Hmmm...

I got into my car and I drove home. As I was heading toward the freeway, I said to the Lord, "Lord, I am not sure I am ready to give up on teaching -- just yet." The drive home was typical for a Monday p.m., and as I was turning into my driveway, I thought to myself "What if I leave teaching, take a full-time job doing something else, and then want to come back to it? What if I miss it so much that I cannot stand the next job I do?" I never thought I might miss it. I thought I would feel relieved to leave it all behind in favor of that well-paying, 9-5 job. I thought about my students, and I thought about the work I do, valuable, hard, and challenging work. I am not bored. I am certainly not bored in my work. I am challenged in every way, and I never think I am good enough, so I constantly seek ways to improve my technique, my presentation, etc. I am in a job that is the most demanding I have ever had, and all I want to do is leave it. In fact, I want a job that pays more money and has benefits -- but one that is challenging and demanding all the same. I want this job, I want the job I have -- just more money. That is the crux of it. I want the job I already have, but I want to earn a decent wage so I can live comfortably.

As that thought dawned on me, I realized the truth of the matter. God had given me a perfect opportunity to learn how to teach. GCU is a teaching college. They teach teachers how to teach. My way here was blessed with favor, and I was offered a chance to teach without any experience. I have been here two years now, and unless I quit or screw up, I can stay here. I wanted a job with a flexible schedule so I could have some downtime to work on my studies. My job permits that and it has not interfered with my studies at Regent. So the only thing this job lacks is equal pay. I knew that going into the job. I knew that adjunct pay would be less than acceptable to me, but it was a trade off so that I could focus on my studies AND gain experience as a teacher. I walked into this position with my eyes wide open, and to think that I didn't know what to expect, well, that is just not true. I did. I do.

I sit here today and I am a bit ashamed that I have been such a whiner and complainer. I normally don't whine and complain (much). I have wailed and I have stomped my feet. I have behaved so badly, so very badly. Now, I see the truth, and I realize just how blind I was to what the Lord was doing in my life. I see it, and I am ashamed.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your ample provision of a good teaching job. Thank you for everything you do for me, and all the good gifts you provide. I trust you now to provide whatever you think is best for my next steps. If you move me, then I will go where you send me. If you keep me here another year, then I will stay where I am. Either way, I will follow the path I am on until you move me to a different way. Until then, I let go of the reins, of the fear and the dread of the unknown, and I accept your provision for my life, for my education, and for my work. I confess all of this in the mighty and matchless Name of Jesus, Amen. So be it. Selah!

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