Dreams Deferred, or Waiting on a Promise?

I got that pang again the other day, the “it’s back to school time and I don’t have a job” sinking feeling in my gut. I’ve felt it too many times, often enough to have a name for it.

I am glad for the past year at home.  As I’ve said before, I think I needed it.  But every time someone brings up how good it is that I can be a stay-at-home mom, I’m quick to jump in with the “for now.”  It’s a gut response, a primal instinct to defend the career I worked so hard to establish, a refusal to let go of dreams that have been pushed to the back burner yet again.  I poured so much of myself into becoming a good teacher, and I’ve haven’t really seen that work come to fruition in the ways that I’d hoped yet. Yes, being at home is a blessing.  This time with my daughter is as precious as it is irreplaceable.  But those dreams haven’t gone away.  It’s still hard watching my teacher friends prepare for another school year.  A good friend just finished training to teach AP Literature, and while I’ve loved hearing about it, man, I’m jealous!

If I were desperate for a job, I probably could have one by now.  I know there were openings in the local public high school, and in a private school in a nearby city.  But I subbed in that public school last year and didn’t like it, and the private school is almost an hour away from my home.  I’m not desperate.  I want to be teaching again, but only if it’s the right fit.  There was a time when I’d scramble for any job I could find.  That’s what landed me in that odd school in Boston with no set high school program, or teaching rambunctious third graders in Florida.  While I’m glad for those experiences because they made me a better teacher, I can afford to be picky now.  That in itself is a huge blessing.  Still, I miss teaching.  A lot.

Langston Hughes does not paint a pretty picture of a dream deferred – festering sores, rotting meat, explosions, and the like. I can’t blame him, considering the time and culture that surrounded him.  And yes, it is hard to watch the desires of your heart slip through your fingers year after year.  I’ve deferred my professional dreams for the sake of my husband and now my daughter, and if I let myself, it would be easy to fester in frustration.  I don’t usually have to pull myself back from the edge of those feelings, but it does happen sometimes – more often than I’d like.

Any time that happens, though, I get this mental slap in the head by the Divine 2×4.  I have said before that I believe God has a plan, and that the hardest thing I’ve ever done is live in faith and trust without knowing His plan.  I’ve got some pretty remarkable stories of God’s faithfulness, last-minute provisions when we needed it the most and closing doors to what we thought we wanted in order to give us something better.  Every crazy, chaotic, terrifying step we’ve taken has been to bring us to where we are now – settled in a great community, with an ideal job for Dan, and now a beautiful daughter.  Clearly, I’m in no position to complain.  And sometimes I need the reminder that a dream deferred does not have to mean a dream denied.

I got that reminder this morning.  I’d spent a good part of yesterday wallowing in the frustration of the indefinite hold that’s been put on my career.  Ever since we moved to Seattle all those years ago, I felt that God was preparing me for something, though I didn’t know what.  At first that thought helped.  It gave purpose to all the random jobs, like somehow each position was giving me a new skill that I needed for some unknown reason.  But years of “preparation for the unknown” is hard.  I feel like I’ve worked so hard to become a good teacher, but I haven’t had a clear opportunity to build on that foundation.  Eight years in the education field, and I’m still waiting to find my niche.  Can you blame me for feeling that disappointed pang in my gut every “Back to School” season?

But then this morning I read this:

“Perhaps you find yourself in a place even now where you are waiting to see something happen that you believe God promised to you years ago.

What do you do in the waiting years?  How do you trust God when there are no physical signs to encourage you?  Are you tempted to put your life on hold as you wait, not committing to anything or anyone else in case you miss your moment?

I don’t think God wants us to take a timeout or give up.  I think we are asked to get in the game of life, to live each day as if it is the only day we will live by his grace.  If God has planted a dream or vision in us, we will not miss it.  That dream will unfold in his perfect time if we are waiting, ready, and watching.”

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God, by Sheila Walsh

His perfect time.  Not mine.  *sigh*  And yet, there’s hope in that reminder.  Waiting shouldn’t be passive.  Rather than focusing on the disappointment of what I don’t have, I need to embrace this time and the blessings I do have – a great home with an amazing family.

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12 thoughts on “Dreams Deferred, or Waiting on a Promise?

  1. Thanks for the post. It was something I really needed to read. I too fear sometimes I am missing what I am meant to do, but then I am reminded to work hard and stay faithful. I can see by your post that you are and will be an incredible teacher. But the best teacher we can be is to our children. You are blessed to be able to stay home, so enjoy it and don’t worry because your blog is teaching others now until you can get back into school. 🙂

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  2. Recently, I took a summer class with a nontraditional student–a 40-something-year-old mom of three who up and decided it was her time to shine and study to become a teacher. She was one of the most inspiring and kind people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. It’s never the wrong time to become a teacher, and there is no doubt in my mind that if you have the willpower to become an educator, you can. Don’t give up hope and know that there are people in your life who are there to support you in your career! Best of luck!

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    • I hope that eight years of teaching, subbing, and other odd jobs in the education field have already made me an educator! 🙂 I appreciate the encouragement, though, and you’re right — it’s never too late to find your path in life.

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  3. Okay, here is some unsolicited advice from someone who is in the same boat.
    You can have it all. For one, stay home with your baby. One day you’ll be grateful you did. Next, get a freelance writing job that you get paid for and enjoy. There are lots out there to choose from. Do some Google searches. You are obviously a writer that is engaging and educated so take advantage of your talent now and if and when the time comes to go back to teaching you’ll be able to say, “I did it all.” Good Luck and enjoy every minute with that baby! ( okay, well at least the minutes you’re not ready to pull your hair out ;-)) In those instances, meditation and/or a glass of wine is an option.

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    • Thank you for the advice. I actually have looked in to freelance writing before, and honestly, I’ve decided it’s not for me. I know there are plenty of work-from-home options I could pursue. If anything, I would consider teaching online. However, it’s not working itself that I miss. It’s being in a classroom full of teenagers, interacting with them and forming relationships with them. That’s what I miss and want to find again. It’s not really about whether or not I work or trying to “do it all”. I’ve done other work, and it’s not the same. I’ve fallen in love with a specific job that I happen to be very good at doing, and that’s the dream I want to pursue. If it’s not the right job, then it is better for me to focus on being home with my baby. And no matter what, my relationship with my daughter and husband will always come first.

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  4. Story of my life sister! I’m working and I keep wondering if I’m doing enough for the kids and fam bam. Every time I’m presented w/ an opportunity I don’t think about how much I want it rather how this will effect my family.

    For now, lets just both have faith and see where things lead us.

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  5. Best wishes on your journey. Have you considered tutoring students in your home or at your favorite java joint for which Seattle is famous? That may let you stay fresh, challenged and engaged in your love of teaching?

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    • I’ve thought about it, but again, it’s not the same as what I’m hoping for. Also, I don’t live in Seattle anymore (that was seven years ago), and the small Midwestern town I live in now actually doesn’t have any java joints. 🙂

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  6. i am pretty much feeling the same and in a very similar situation. I became a qualified teacher, which I absolutely loved! in a school I loved and with students I genuinely enjoyed being around! I found my Niche! then moved in with my partner and relocated and found it hard to find a permanent job so began temping. We then fell pregnant which is obviously amazing news, so when my temporary contracts ended I decided to spend more time with my eldest son before the baby is born to make sure he is settled and happy. It was going brilliantly until the UK summer holidays where I’ve spent most of the time helping my partner plan, put together presentations, organise folders, researching and getting him all ready for his new school year…. I too have been feeling that ‘pang’ you mention.

    I think once you find that thing that you love, even when more important and better things come your way, it’s normal to miss it, to even feel a little sad it’s not part of you at this moment in time. BUT remember, If you love it, it will be part of your life again, who knows what opportunity lies ahead. You just need to find the glass slipper – it will come your families way and your new students will be very lucky to have such a devoted teacher 🙂

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