Friday, May 26, 2017

Moving Forward....but looking back

I always think it is a good idea when leaving a place to reflect upon that part of the journey. I am sure that there will be things that have happened in the last 3 years that I won't fully understand for many years, but I am thankful for each moment.  It has been a hard 3 years.  I have had to undergo some major criticism as a person and teacher.  I have had some hard things come about that I will always look back on and wonder why they had to happen in that way.  Maybe one day I will completely understand, but for now I just try to let them go.

When I stepped into these halls 3 years ago in August I was arriving back to the states from overseas.  It had not been the experience I had expected, and I was more broken then when I went in the first place.  I was also hopeful.  I was hopeful that I had finally found a place where I could settle.  There was hope of a previous relationship happening again, and a new job that I would be able to excel in.  These hopes led to optimism about this new place.  That everything would just fall into place, and I would have the perfect job, perfect life, and perfect everything at my finger tips.  Ha! Like that ever happens! 

I wish I could say that all those things worked out, but they didn't.  The last 3 years have been like doing a through hike on the PCT.  Trying to get ahead of all that was said.  Trying to mend from the brokenness that was laid down at my feet because of unknown expectations that I was supposed to meet that I didn't even know about.  Working through past events that impacted my current situation.

Teaching isn't for the weak.  It isn't something that you go into for the money, or the summers off.  I know there are still people that think that way.  Teaching requires a thick skin, because you have about a million people that want you to meet the expectations for their own individual child, and when you don't they are disappointed.  I think sometimes it is good to be in a place that helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses.  I will say these last 3 years both personally and professionally have done just that.

Here's the thing though, I feel like when we are at our lowest is when God works and moves to bring us up.  I would say the last 3 months have been a bringing up time in my life.  Applying for new jobs, unsure of exactly where He was leading me.  Preparing myself to move away despite the fact that I love my church, a new community that I am part of, and all of my volunteer experiences.  Preparing to start over again, because there has been so much loss, and most times it is easier to deal with loss if you just leave it behind.

You know what though?  That's not His plan.  For the first time in my life I am staying.  I am building friendships that are made of people that want to build me up instead of bring me down.  I am rocking my volunteer opportunities and meeting so many amazing people that love and value me.  Do you know how great it feels to be loved and valued?  Pretty stinking amazing.  I am getting to know people that want me in their lives.  Not just to talk about me behind my back, but truly enjoy spending time with me.

Sometimes we have to be taken to the depths of despair before we can understand what we were meant to do, and where we were meant to be.

I am leaving teaching, maybe I will go back to it one day, or maybe it will be in a different capacity.  I will always be thankful for these 3 years, in the states teaching.  I am a better listener, encourager, crafter, and teacher because of the moments in time I have spent inside these 4 walls.  I am thankful for team meetings that went outside of these 4 walls.  I am thankful for field days, field trips, staff prayer, science experiments, parent volunteers, but mostly I am thankful for students.  Everyday was a challenge in one way or another, but they impacted me.  They led well. They opened my eyes to see the creative ways that God shows His character in each of us. 

There is no way to know exactly how we have impacted another person.  We cross paths with people every single day.  Sometimes the impact is great, and other times it is so small it seems nonexistent.  It is there though.  Our lives touch those around us, we plant seeds.  Those seeds will move mountains one day.  Those seeds will be our legacy.  God's legacy.  I am thankful that even if I feel like I did nothing, He moved in me to do everything that was needed during my time in this place.

So, I pack up my bags.  I close the door, and walk down the hallway.  I put away the curriculum books, the expo markers, and I look ahead to new norms.  I look up, finish strong, and know that God's plans or so much bigger than my own.  That this little stop on my journey has changed me and others in ways that only He knows.  I don't say good-bye, I say see you later.  Because although this chapter is over, there are so many more left to write, and live.  The hike isn't over....because just over the next hill there is another one to climb. 

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