May 24, 2017
I passed a fairly good night last night. I slept well, despite some tossing and turning, and in the end, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my day. I have a low-key day planned. Mostly, I have the grading for my class at ASU to complete. I am liking the fact that I am teaching only one class right now. It is taking me about any hour to grade assignments, interact with students, and provide good feedback. It is so nice to have free time built around my normally overly busy day.
Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I asked the Lord to help me see His preference for my life. I wanted to know that I was pursuing His best for my future, and although I believe I am aligned with His will, I wanted help in making the decision whether to stay put or to go to where I have thought He might be leading me to go.
I have been wrestling with the decision to go for a while now, but last evening, I had a nice conversation with my son regarding some things he wanted to pursue, and well, it just got me thinking that perhaps it is in my best interest and that of my son's to just stay put. I mean, I am here. I am employed. I have a good life so why rock the boat, so to speak? Why upset the apple cart?
I prayed for a long while before I finally fell asleep, and even when I woke up this morning, I had this strange feeling as if I had misunderstood something, or rather, as if I had taken a misstep. The Lord is gracious to me, and of course, I started to pray first thing for clarification. I need understanding and lots of it. I need to have a better handle on what I should be doing right now as well as how I should conform my thinking so that it aligns with His will completely. I don’t want to make a mistake — oh, no! I want to make sure that whatever decision I do make is 100% His choice for me.
Yesterday, I blogged about my sense that I was to move to VA. Last night, I started back on the “staying here” is best line of argument. After all, it is the most practical and logical course of action. But, this morning, I started to think about VA again, and well, it didn’t take long before I was off-track, wandering down that path, and thinking that I will never be clear on this matter at all.
While I was in the shower, I took some time to think about this situation, and to remember what I believe the Lord has said to me previously. It is always important to return your mind to what you last knew or believed to be true. In this case, I recalled everything I felt was for certain in my life. I recounted every detail of my belief regarding ministry assignments, practical work, and my current life as it is today. Once I recounted everything I knew to be true, I felt relief. It was like the clouds cleared, and my mind started to return to its normal status. I felt like the confusion melted away, and with that sense of relief, I began to once again think about VA. Weird as it may sound, I do think this might be His desire and not just my own want or need. In truth, I think He may be placing this idea in my mind to help me think about it, imagine it, and yes, even desire it.
So where does this leave me today? I would say it this way. I spent this morning looking at some property online right here in Phoenix. I love Zillow, and I always go there to just browse. I like to look at houses, see inside of them, and imagine what it might be like to live in each home. I just to do this when I was a child, especially on drives where I had to stare out the window. I would try to catch a glimpse of what was inside each room, past the curtains, and then to think what the house layout would be like. Later, as I got older, my Mom and I would often tour new home developments. We would go and look at how the rooms were decorated for ideas. As I matured, I started to collect magazines, and I would sit for hours and just look at the rooms (can you see that I might have had a career as an interior designer?) Now, with Pinterest and Zillow, I get the same thrill without having to physically leave my room. I can browse on my phone, laptop or computer. I find the whole process both relaxing and invigorating.
Back to the point at hand…I spent the morning looking at some homes I have bookmarked here in Phoenix. These are “sample” homes, which simply means they represent a type of home that I would love to own someday, Lord willing. I am content to live in any size or price home, but I look at homes that would meet my needs today as well as in the future. These homes represent what I like about living in Phoenix, and they run the gamut from small to large, modest to expensive. I think I like to bookmark them so that I can virtually imagine living in them. I try not to covet them or envy the owners because God’s word says we are not to covet. I simply try to imagine what would work for me down the road, as the Lord provides. I like to look at counters and cabinets, paint colors, window coverings, etc. to help me decide on preferences, style choices, and ultimately, what I could live with (put up with) should I need to move.
In all of this, as I spent time looking today, I came to the conclusion that Phoenix doesn’t hold any attraction to me other than my family being here. I loathe the heat (yes, I did say I wasn’t going to complain anymore), and the dust and dirt do get me down. Yet, I know this place has been a blessing to me, so I simply say, “Thank you, Lord, for my time spent in the desert, in this wilderness.” I am ready, though, to step into the promised land.
It took me a while to figure this whole thing out, but I think I finally get what is happening to me. You see, the Lord has given me clear instruction as to my life — His will and the plans He has for my life. I have tried to explain this to people before but they often don’t get it or it doesn’t make sense to them. When I say that I teach for practical work, they naturally begin to say that it is my ministry since God provided this way to me, and since teaching is considered a spiritual gift, it would logically follow that God intends for me to do ministry as a teacher. I don’t disagree with this view, per se; but I end up correcting them because I believe that teaching is my career and not my main ministry. God called me to Regent to study communication — not to become an English teacher. I teach English, and yes, I love what I do, but I studied communication for a very specific reason, and that reason is my calling and mandate. I am to help the church communicate faith more effectively, but my day-to-day work is to help students learn to write essays and express themselves well academically. I know I may be parsing words, but I see both sides of my life as connected, but not as the same thing. Teaching is good practical work; communication is ministry, for the church and for the Kingdom.
With this said, what confuses me most is when I get the two facets of my life mixed up. For example, when I focus on teaching to the sole exclusion of everything else, I realize I have overstepped my boundaries and I need to retreat. Teaching is practical work for me, and while I do mentor, and yes, I do consider some of what I do a ministry to students (in my attitude, I mean), I teach to earn a living — to be paid a living wage. My work in communication, however, is ministry, and as such, this is something I cannot avoid doing. I am called to it, and I love it. I cannot wait to begin this work nor can I ever hope to engage in it without His help. I cannot start it, do it, even imagine it without the Lord’s help. I am waiting to begin this ministry, and in time, the Lord will provide everything needed for me to do it. I must attend to the practical now, and that is where all this indecision and hesitation has caused me such angst.
Today, though, I had a brief moment of clarity. I had a moment whereby I was able to see things really clearly. It wasn’t as if I heard a voice from heaven say, “Carol, you are to go here…;” rather, it would more like I stopped for a moment and thought about my choices, staying or going, and compared the two. One just seemed to make more sense to me — and the one that made more sense — ended up not being the one that was most practical or logical. Yes, it was just like when I had to make the choice to pursue full-time teaching, and as such, I had to physically stop looking for corporate jobs. I vacillated off and on for so long with making this decision. The practical choice was to get a job in corporate business — put all this teaching nonsense behind me — and start earning real money. I interviewed back in 2016, and as I have blogged about it, I knew the moment I went into the managers' office. I just knew I didn’t belong in an office environment any more. I walked out, ashamed for even wasting that man’s time, but I left with the confirmation that I was meant to be a professor. I just had my eyes opened through an unpleasant experience.
In the same way, I thought about my two choices today. How one choice is the practical one (staying in Phoenix) and one choice relies on faith alone. This choice requires that I teach at multiple schools just to make ends meet. But, it keeps me close to my son and my parents, and it is the easiest path to follow since I am already on it. The second path is a path of faith. It is like teaching in that there is no assurance of an easy outcome. I believe the Lord will provide for me, but there is nothing out there to confirm that at this time. I have my past experience, my past faith-filled and promise fulfilled experience, but in this way, I must trust the Lord to provide where there seems to be no way.
I guess the crossroads of my life are simply put: I must choose one way or the other. One way places all my faith and dependency on the Lord, and the other way, rests more with me and with others around me. Staying put in Phoenix seems less chancy, less insecure because my parents are with me, and with their help, I have been able to live/will continue to live comfortably. My son is here, and with his presence, I have comfort and joy and happiness. My life is good right now, so very good. But, to go means letting go of what I enjoy now, and it means trusting the Lord to provide everything — a job, a house, a new life. I am willing. I am agreeable.
In all of this discussion, I have been asked to consider why I am confused, why I don’t understand what will be. I have come to the conclusion that my confusion simply stems from my unwillingness to embrace the destiny the Lord has for me. I am afraid. I am fearful of not knowing what will be. I have said I will trust Him, but I am not acting very trusting right now. So much so, that I have allowed my enemy to confuse and confound me and make me feel unwell.
Thus, after careful consideration, I am choosing to go where the Lord is sending me. I don’t have any inkling that I will go to VA and work full-time, but I am open to it. I am simply saying that at this time, I am going to trust the Lord to provide everything to me. If He desires it, so be it. If He asks me to stay here in Phoenix, so be it. I am trusting the Lord to open the door for me, and when He says it is time to go, then I will go. He is good to me, so very good to me.
I am choosing this day to believe that the plans the Lord has for my life are good. They are really, really good. More so, I am choosing that He will show me the job, ask me to apply, and then provide a smooth transition from my current work situation to the new one. Until that time, I will do what He asks me to do here. I will continue to teach my students. I will be faithful, hopeful, and agreeable. I will be content — in all things — and I will wait, eagerly and with excitement for the Lord to show me the way to go. He will lead me, guide me, and yes, provide for me. In all things, He will do as He has promised. He is faithful. He will do it. I am sure of it. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done.