December 2, 2015

He is Loving and Faithful

Today, is beautiful outside, but it is barely above 36 degrees, and I am freezing cold! I made the long trek back home after my early morning class today just to be able to sit in my warm and comfortable office. There was no point in shivering in the library -- just to fill time. I have about 4 hours in between my first and second class, and since I don't have an office on campus, I normally find a semi-comfortable spot in the library to do my work (online studies or just class prep). Lately, though, it has been so chilly in the mornings that I have made the decision to drive home -- even though it costs me in gas money -- simply to avoid the drafty library and the extra expense of coffee and lunch. I am finding that while I don't like the 25 minute drive home, I do like the 3 plus hours I can sit in my own room, enjoying my free coffee, and being comfortable surrounded by the things (people and cats) I love. God is good, so very good to me today.

All His Ways are Good

The Lord is Good. He is loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant (Ps. 25:10). The Lord is good. He is so very good. Today, I mediated on this verse, remembering how kind and generous our God is, and how He provides for our every need. He is good, so very good to us! Selah!

As I sit here today thinking about His ways and how He has provided a good practical job for me to do, I am reminded of the fact that the Lord has planned and purposed my path, that He has set in motion certain events and expectations for me, and in obedience to His call, I am walking in the fulfillment of His will and His word to me. The Lord is gracious and kind, He knows me well, and He has chosen a way for me to go that "fits me."

I wish I could say that I have been always convinced of the way to go, but that would not be accurate nor true. No, I have struggled mightily over the past 6-8 months while I tried to accept that this path, this job, in particular, was chosen for me as a "life's work." You see, I have a serious issue with money, it is a tempter, and it calls to me (money, that is) and tries oh-so-hard to keep me from being obedient to the Lord. I like money. I like having it, lots of it, but not to spend per se, but rather just to horde. Yes, I am a hoarder, a miser of sorts, and I have this inclination toward saving, toward being solvent, and toward securing my future solely through financial gain.

The problem for me is that teaching is not a financially rewarding career (ask any teacher and they will laugh at you for even suggesting that you can make a good living through higher education!) so when the Lord put me on this path, I guess part of me didn't like the fact that this career choice wouldn't be the "solution" to all my money worries. Sigh! Thus, money and my preoccupation with it, has been an issue for me as I learn to lean on and to depend on the Lord for His complete provision. Selah!

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:10 NIV).

I am not sure when I became "fixated on money" because I don't recall that I gave "money" much thought as a child. In fact, I wasn't anxious to work as a teenager. My parents and friends said to me "Don't you want to work, Carol? Don't you want to earn your own money?" I was like "No, not really." I mean, I had my needs met by my parents. I had clothes to wear to school, books, items that I enjoyed, etc., and I don't really recall wanting anything that my parents didn't provide to me. Rarely, did I ask for anything outside of birthdays or Christmas, so in truth, I was pretty content to live comfortably on whatever my parents provided to me and my brothers.

Once I started working, I remember that I didn't really care for the whole experience. I never felt like the work I did was enjoyable because to me it was more like something you "had to do." Even my first real job (at an office) wasn't really satisfying to me. I liked staying home, and I liked being able to do my own thing. I really didn't want to work, go to school, or do anything at all. I spent a lot of time thinking, reflecting, and generally, just enjoying my life. Yes, as I reflect back on it, the truth was that I much preferred to stay at home than to be a "good productive worker."

It seems that my desire for money was fueled solely by my relationship with my ex-husband. He was the one who was seeking money to solve all his problems (ALL his problems). I saw the necessity of it, I mean, you need money to eat, to pay rent, to pay for your gas and electricity, but I didn't really see the need for it outside of perhaps a new toy now and then (like a new TV or to take some trip). It just seemed to me that as long as your basic needs were covered, what else was needed for comfort?

My ex was driven to succeed financially, and his drive was one of the issues we struggled to overcome throughout the course of our marriage. I really wanted the basics of life; but he wanted excess. I was happy living in a small apartment, while he wanted the house up on top of the hill. I was happy driving my Triumph Spitfire (even with its issues), and he wanted a BMW. I was happy in Levis and tennis shoes and he wanted to wear the best suits. We simply were on different pages when it came to money, and as a result, he was never satisfied with what we had together. It was never enough to make him happy. In the end, we separated due to his infidelity, but the money issue, the money thing, was always part-and-parcel to our marriage troubles.

I guess over the course of 26 years of marriage, I came to be like him in some ways. Our money troubles began early in our marriage, but they escalated to the point of crisis,  the minute he insisted owning his own business. He said wanted to be his own boss, and that meant having his own business. The problem, of course, was that 1) he wasn't a good business manager, and 2) he never made enough money to live the way he wanted. The funny thing was that when we were first married, he was in sales and marketing, and he made really good money, like lots of money. He gave all that up because he believed he could "make more" by doing his own thing. The rub was that he never did earn near what he was making working in sales and marketing, and in the end, he (and our family by extension) lived hand-to-mouth, paycheck to paycheck, every month.

After we separated, I asked him why he didn't quit the business since he never earned a decent income, but he said that he wasn't just in it for gain, but that he liked being his own boss. The sad part is that the cost of being his own boss was a life of poverty. He never achieved what he desired and that was to be wealthy. He could have easily had a more comfortable life, a better financed life, had he just stayed in the industry he was in (and where he was able to do really good work). And now, as a 58 year old man with serious health issues, he is not in a position to do anything different. He made his life, and now he must live with the fruit of his labor (Gal. 6:7).

So for me, money has been the root of all evil for me. I say that rather "tongue in cheek," only because money has been a thorn in my side. I went from a child/teen with no money cares to a wife/mother fixated on having "enough" to cover our needs. Now as a single woman, I am still fixated on having enough to meet my daily needs. Yet, I know the Lord provides well for me, and that He cares deeply about my physical needs. Nonetheless, I still think about having oodles of money, so much that I never have to worry about money again. Sigh.

Today, I think about this path, and how the Lord chose for me to become a teacher. I am not in this job for gain, how can I be? Rather, I am in it because I believe it is the path the Lord desires for me to follow. I may not earn a powerful living through teaching, but I am doing honorable work, an honest living, and for that I am thankful. Of the many things I asked the Lord to provide to me, good practical work and honest work, were key among them. You see, I never liked living hand-to-mouth nor did I like doing what I considered "dishonest gain" (employment where I felt that my work contributed to fraud). I had issues with the way my ex-husband ran his business, and since I worked for him, I always felt so guilty like as if I was sinning in the way the business (and my work in particular) were being advertised. I struggled with that feeling of guilt for years, so when I was finally liberated from the marriage, I asked the Lord (well, really begged Him) to provide practical work that was good and honest. This was vital to my mental well-being, and I didn't want to do anything that could be construed as dishonest ever again.

Teaching, therefore, provides good honest work for me to do. It is not the most financially lucrative, but it is good work, and I can take pride in my effort. I love this fact, that I can live every day knowing that my work is good, and that it honors the Lord. He is good to me, and He provides this kind of work because He knows how important it is for me to feel free from any condemnation about the type of work being done. Selah!

As a teacher, I may not earn a lot of money, but I do have good work to produce daily. Furthermore, the Lord has provided instruction for me that has helped me become a better teacher. I just completed my second year evaluation and the peer reviewer told me that I was doing an excellent job. In fact, he said "You are one of the nicest people I have ever met, Carol, and you do a phenomenal job in the classroom." I thought about his words and how they made me feel. Truthfully, I have struggled with teaching, the nuts and bolts of it, and twice now when I have been evaluated professionally, I have been told that I am doing well. I guess it just has taken time for that truth to sink in to me. I also think that it shows me that I am right where I belong -- teaching English and Communication -- since both of these disciplines fit me well.

I am thinking now about this path, and how the Lord chose a way that is both practical and good. I know that the money will follow soon since I believe that He will provide a full-time salary position to me in time. I guess all my worries about teaching, whether I was good at it, and whether it was the "right path" have been for naught. I should have listened to the Lord, believed His word to me, and rested in the process. He is good, so very good to me.

As I wrap up this blog post, I am feeling more confident in my path. I mean, if the Lord didn't intend for me to stay in this field (teaching), then surely He would have moved me out of it. Instead, He has me right where He wants me, and as I am rounding the midpoint of my third year at GCU, I can see this as a viable means of work for me going forward in time. Yes, I plan to retire as an instructor. I plan to pursue this course until the Lord says it is time to "rest" and that means "retire." He knows my needs well, and I am blessed to be in the middle of His will, and carefully tended to and cradled in His mighty and merciful hand. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

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