I've spent the last two years of my life teaching spirited second graders at a wonderful Catholic School in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. (Some of the funniest dialogues have been documented on this blog. If you click on the category "From the Mouth of a Child" you'll find them all.) Recently, I chose not to sign my contract for next year. I do not currently have a job lined up.
So, why didn't sign?
I remembering wanting a variety of careers growing up: mailman, psychiatrist, dolphin trainer. But I could never actually see myself doing anything but teaching. I loved school. I loved playing school at home. I had a chalkboard in my bed room and a whole list of kids and papers to grade. Speaking of grading papers, I loved helping my friends who taught with their grading.
I walked into my first teaching job with relative ease. I had a strong mentor. I was surrounded by willing, helpful, and friendly teachers. I had families who were good to me. I struggled that first year to really put my heart fully into what I was doing. I think on a huge level I was afraid that if I did, I would get stuck in teaching forever.
When I made the decision to walk away from youth ministry, I made a promise to myself. I promised that I would put all of myself into my classroom. I would work hard. I would embrace the people around me. I would dive into the community. I would see myself as a fully-given component of my students' lives. And while I cannot look at everyday and say that I upheld that promise, I can say that overall I found success.
Even in the best moments, I could not stop myself from wondering what else is out there for me. There were whispers of a gentle stirring in my heart to search, to find. When it came time to sign the contract, I was torn - torn between an excellent job (with its challenges of course) and this unsettled sense within of a "something more" that perhaps lay elsewhere.
I do not know exactly what I will find on this journey. I cannot say where I will be even at the next step. But I do know that it is with great faith and trust that I am taking this leap. Why the leap? Because my life doesn't have to be an unhappy sense of trapped. My life can be joyful and constant movement toward that ever illusive more. The more that is only fully found and dwelt in at the throne of our Heavenly Father.
There is a definite sense of sadness in leaving. I'll miss the incredible people I've learned to call friends. But it is not with a heavy heart that I go. I leave with a sense of, "okay. This is it. Here I go."
"Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened for you."