This past weekend, I spent time with 8 of my closest friends for our annual girls’ trip to the beach. One afternoon a few of us were sitting on the beach discussing the feeling of being trapped by our chosen career. We chose a career path when we were younger that we were so passionate about. We all became teachers. We just knew that we were going to make a difference in the lives of so many children. I know I felt like that was what God had always called me to do. I was destined to be a teacher. Unfortunately for many of us, that path is no longer one that we really want because teaching tends to suck the life out of you. When you are someone that devotes everything to your career, you eventually will become burned out. You are forced to choose your job over everything else in your life because you think that is what you are supposed to do. It’s who you are. Sadly, it makes you become bitter, resentful, and angry. It causes you to take time away from the people and things you love the most. I know it made me a miserable person. I wasn’t someone that others wanted to be around. I took all of my frustrations out on my own kids and husband. They always got short changed because the job came first. It got to the point where it took all I had just to get through each day. I had nothing left by the time I got home to my family each evening. I felt like a failure…a failure to my students, to my kids, and to my husband. It is really sad to hear that so many of my teacher friends feel the same way. It is sad to hear teacher after teacher leaving the profession because they just can’t take it anymore. What is more heartbreaking, though, is all of those teachers that are forced to stay because they are afraid to leave. They are afraid of loosing an income that their family desperately needs. They are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of no longer having a purpose in their lives. They are afraid of not knowing who they are because their whole existence has always been about being a teacher. They are afraid of loosing their identity. These are all things that I struggled with when I made the decision to walk away from the classroom. It is the same thing that many of my friends are struggling with.
As I sat there on the beach, I looked one of my friends in the eye and told her that she is worthy of something else. She is worthy of something more. We all are. I only wish that someone had told me that years ago. I may not have listened, but I would like to think that maybe it would have sunk in and made a difference. Staying in a situation that clearly is killing you is not worth it. It is not worth the stress, the fatigue, or fight that you constantly have with yourself. It is not worth all of those times that you feel like a failure as a mom because you can’t devote the time you need to your children or the times you feel like a failure to your students because you are being pulled in a million directions. It is not worth it. It wasn’t worth it for me. I was not willing to sacrifice my own happiness, my family, my health, or my sanity anymore. I had to take that leap of faith. Of course I worried about how my family would handle the financial loss of my income. I worried about what my purpose in life was. Who am I if I am not a teacher? I worried about looking like a quitter. I worried about letting people down. I worried that I was going against God’s plan for my life. I can tell you that it was not an easy decision. It was not something that I took lightly, and it certainly wasn’t something that came quickly. It actually took me 3 years to decide that I wasn’t going back to teaching. There are still days when I think about how much easier it would be on my family if I just went back. There are days that I still feel like I want to go back. I loved working with my students. I really did. I know that was what I was called to do at that time. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love all of the extra stuff that came with the job or the pressure. It wasn’t my passion anymore. Maybe I will go back one day, but right now my choice is for something else. It is for something that fulfills me in ways that teaching no longer did.
How did I finally get to the place I am now? Trust me, it wasn’t easy. I did a lot of praying. I did a lot of soul searching. I had to rediscover who I was without teaching. I had to really reflect on what my dreams are now. I learned that those dreams are something totally different than what they were 20 years ago, and that is okay. I listened to a few podcasts and read a couple of books. Most of all, I sat still and listened to God. I listened to what his will for my life is now. I had come to a fork in the road. One path was the one that I thought I was supposed to be on. It was the path that was familiar. It was the path I knew my way through. The other path was new. It was a path that led to places I had never been. It was scary. I was afraid I would get lost, but when I was still, I heard God telling me to take the unfamiliar road. He told me that he would be my guide. He would lead me through the uncharted waters. He promised me that he would hold my hand and carry me when I needed him. You know what? That is exactly what he has done. He showed me that I was supposed to become a teacher all those years ago. I was supposed to influence the lives of hundreds of children, but he also showed me that chapter in my life is over. God has different plans for me now. Yes, we have struggled financially since loosing my income. Yes, it has been hard. Yes, it has been an adjustment. Guess what? It has been worth it all because I am worthy of something more. God showed me that. He has provided for me in all the ways I needed. He has now opened doors for me that I never knew existed. He is leading me down the uncharted path one step at a time. He has blessed my family in ways we never could have imagined. He is taking care of us because we are all in his hands and he is in control.
I am so glad that I listened and took that leap of faith. If I hadn’t, I would still be in the midst of a job that was literally killing me. It was robbing me of so much. I would never have known what amazing things that God has in store for me now. Sometimes it is still scary. I still second guess myself. Whenever those times come up, I stop and pray. A peace will come over me, and I will be reminded of whose I am and who is in control. If you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path, I encourage you to be still and listen. Search your soul. Rediscover who you are. Take the leap of faith. Dive head first into those uncharted waters. You are worthy. You are worth the jump. God will take care of you, and he will show you the way.
Anchored on a New Path,