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.