I remember the bubble guts I had every time I thought about it, knowing it was time for me to start. Weeks before, all I could think about was how unqualified I felt. I feared my students would learn nothing from me. And I wondered what would they think about me. Needless to say, I was terrified of starting my high school student teaching.
Within the first week (on day three, to be exact) I remember one of my mentor teachers asking if I wanted to lead reading and discussion of Romeo and Juliet with my freshmen honor students. Reluctantly I said yes. While we were reading aloud, one of my students raised his hand and asked me why so and so spoke in a particular manner given the context of when it was written.
I imagine I had a blank stare on my face, to which I replied, “I don’t know,” and asked that the reader keep reading. By the end of class, my mentor teachers critiqued me and I was in tears in front of them. I felt overwhelming embarrassment and wished, with all my might, that I could put on an invisibility cloak. Where was Harry Potter when I needed him?!
When I arrived back home, I flopped on the couch and told my husband, Christian, that I wanted to quit – teaching just wasn’t for me. I wanted to spend two more years changing my major and be anything but a teacher. I was so self-absorbed, enveloped in self-pity, and crippled by fear.
He reminded me that it wouldn’t always be this way. He pointed out that I was allowing my failures take my joy in Christ. As much as I knew he was right, I didn’t want to hear it.
At the time, I was reading a gratitude plan from She Reads Truth. On one particular day, the devotion prompted the reader to write a gratitude list by following specific headings. For example,
“I will give thanks in…
This joyful thing:
I did not want to write how I was grateful for anything painful or stressful since I didn’t want to be stressed or hurt in the first place. But, during my lunch break, I finally wrote out how I was thankful for it. I knew I should be, but I didn’t want to be.
Shortly after, a teacher from my English department knocked on my door. I didn’t want to open it, but I did anyway. And I’m so thankful I did! She was so nice and genuinely wanted to know how I was doing. I was completely honest with her and told her how I wasn’t enjoying it. I shared my struggles with trusting God with how I was feeling. During the course of our conversation, she told me she was a believer too and completely understood where I was coming from. Like what?! In all my complaining and navel-gazing the Lord had provided someone in who could help me and encourage me in what I knew to be true about God, despite my fickle feelings.
I still continued to struggle month after month, my emotions were getting the better of me and everyone around me saw it. One day, my mentor teacher suggested I quit if I really didn’t feel like I was giving the students what they needed. Woah! In that second, I realized that I wasn’t representing Christ well. While I had been professing Christ, I hadn’t been showing Him in my actions. I had been complaining, grumbling about my lack of experience and utter exhaustion. How was that an example of God’s goodness and faithfulness and grace? I was convicted.
It’s a sweet thing, conviction. It wasn’t until three months in, when I was tired of trying to be the perfect teacher, that the Holy Spirit was showed me the purpose of it all. God was chiseling me into the woman He was calling me to be, and it was happening like this:
Being challenged/testing my faith
Exposing my comfort idol
Giving me the opportunity to fail so I would depend on the Lord
Dying to my flesh (pride, ugly attitude, control, etc.)
Giving thanks always
Accepting that it’s okay to not be okay
I’m thankful God didn’t let me quit, even though everything in me wanted to. When getting out of bed felt like being hit by a ton of bricks, God was still faithful, present, and good. I have learned that trials and hard times aren’t for me to despise, but to embrace. This season has shown me my constant and desperate need for God on both the good days and the difficult ones. I have experienced Jesus in a new way I hadn’t before, and I’m thankful for it. Now I can honestly say that I’m grateful for the testing.
Now, I’m pursuing an opportunity to be a certified English teacher and have a substitute position in process in a middle/high school on a military base overseas, where I currently live. Though I’ve grown a lot, I still find myself doubting. I procrastinate, I don’t take it seriously all of the time, and I still question if this is what the Lord is calling me to. Every day is an opportunity for me to choose faith over fear and fight for my dream.
I haven’t arrived, but I am pressing. Prayer, seeking the Lord at His Word, and surrounding myself in community have been the very things that continually remind me that the Lord is good. I have learned that even during the weak points of my life, it’s all for my good and His glory, that in the end I may “count it all joy!”
My tendency is to focus on all the hard stuff, a habit that has a crippling effect on me. But I am grateful for my husband who consistently reminds to focus on the things that excite me. He encourages me to shift my perspective and see making mistakes as part of the learning process. It’s amazing how the Lord sends you people to encourage you when you need it the most!
My current prayer, as I continue to walk out my faith daily, is for the Lord to strengthen and empower me to live out this scripture: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 (NIV)
How has God changed your life? How has he changed how you see yourself?
We want to hear your story (even if it's still in process) of victory in Christ!