Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Job

So, I started a new job this month.  That’s pretty crazy considering that I was at my last job for 17.5 years and I always joked that I could be the poster child for my job.  I loved *almost* every aspect of it.  I’ve kept pretty quiet the job change.  There’s so much in my heart and head to say…I’ve struggled for months now on how to put it all in to words.  In all honesty, the struggle continues, but I am breaking my silence to tell you some things I have learned thus far.

For all of you non-teachers out there here is a quick lesson on a business aspect of the teaching world.  Basically since the dawning of time if a teacher transfers school districts they can only take 7 years of experience with them – this translates into a salary issue as teachers get cost of living raises with each year they have taught.  And this translates into the fact that for the most part, after 7 years of teaching – teachers stay put because the alternative is a huge deduction in salary.  This year a couple of school districts in my city changed the game by saying they would honor ALL years of service to any teacher looking to move school districts.  Was I looking?  Not necessarily…but the idea of working closer to my daughters kept gnawing at me.  And, I’m not gonna lie – last year was a Really. Difficult. Year. Change was tantalizing.

I decided to apply just to see what would happen.  I received a call about an interview before I had even submitted my application for review.  I was driving on the highway and immediately burst in to tears.  The thought of this possible change made me run the gamut of emotions.  I didn’t even know if I wanted this.  It was terrifying.  How could I leave all my work friends?  People I’ve fostered friendships with for 17 years?!  How could I leave the kids in the neighborhood where I was teaching?  I’ve had former student’s kids for goodness sake.  Didn’t they need me?  Would a job change make me a sellout?  My mind was full of questions.

At the time all of this was happening I was reading an autobiography by Steven Curtis Chapman.  He is a person of faith I have great admiration for – he has lived through many mountains and valleys throughout his career and seemed to always remain a person of integrity.  Something he said in his book really resonated with me.  He posed the question, “How do I know if the step I am considering taking is a step God wants me take?”  Good question.  How many of us have also asked this question!  I was currently asking myself this very question, amongst many others.  One of his mentors answered him by saying something to the effect of, “When opportunity presents itself, you move forward. You move forward until a door closes and changes your direction.”  I decided to take that advice.  I was going to continue to move forward until a door was closed.

The thing is, I have always had a unique perspective on my job.  I’m not a missionary in the traditional sense, but I’ve always considered my job to be equivalent to a missionary.  I honestly believe as Christ followers we are all missionaries regardless of our jobs.  Our job in life is to shine the light of Christ and God’s love to whomever we encounter.  And whether you are religious or not – I think we as human beings can all agree that we often are the only light/good/happy/positive force that those around us may interact with that day.  There is a lot of darkness/adversity/hate/ugliness in the world.  Needless to say I take my job as someone shaping young minds very seriously.  I want my students to feel loved and safe and I want them to remember me as a kind person who loved them and inspired them to do their best.  (OMG full disclosure – I cannot even type this without crying and I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I actually teared up in my interview when discussing this.  I figured at that point everyone in the room deemed me as a crazy person.)  Whatever they thought of me, I ended up getting a job.

I have wrestled with God most of the summer.  I spent many days asking myself “What have I done?”  It certainly has been a season filled with bittersweet days.  Like I said, I loved my job.  I loved my school.  I loved my coworkers.  I loved my students.  It was painful to leave.  It still is painful.  I miss my people. J  But in the midst of my wrestling, God revealed a very clear vision to me.  As much as I miss so many things about my “old” job, I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be.  Most times being obedient to His calling is hard.  And we all know change is hard.  Change. Is. So. Hard. 

But the Lord is gracious and kind and has allowed me a few priceless gems during my transition.  When I asked, “Who will love the kids if I go?”  He answered me with a couple of new staff members that I know share similar views to myself on loving those kids.  He gave me a passionate new boss whose vision aligns parallel with mine.  And a team of grade level cohorts with common vision on many levels. 

I’m enjoying my students.  They too need to be loved.  And I feel like I was specifically brought here to love them and inspire them and show kindness to them.  And although I still grieve the closing of the previous chapter of my life, I am trying to rest in this chapter and realize I will stay here until I am called elsewhere.

Philippians 1:6 – “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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