“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
I decided my sophomore year in college to change my major from Sociology to English. Admittedly, I wanted to study sociology because Zora Neale Hurston did, and she wrote characters that walked off the page and into your mind, flipping through the filing cabinets of memory and reading aloud long-forgotten accounts. I wanted to observe people, to study people from a safe distance. I did not know how much science was involved, and my research papers were cleverly written, but complete scientific bunk.
What else does one do with an English major, though, except teach? I had daydreams of scenes from Dead Poets’ Society, sitting on the big desk and philosophizing about Hamlet and Frost, molding young people, inspiring, high-five-ing in the halls. Steady, respectable, interesting employment.
God has the habit (perhaps, His character) of giving us exactly what we want, and what we need, but in completely different packaging.
After five years of teaching seventh grade English (no philosophizing or even inspiring, although lots of high-fives), I felt an undeniable urging from the Lord to leave my job and raise my child, later children, at home. It was the hardest decision I have ever made. I left the thing which had made up so much of my identity for so long in exchange for full-time occupation in something that I was never truly pursuant of or prepared.
I took that in which I knew I was successful and left it on the altar. I grieved for it and looked back many times, quite frankly. I took up the position for which I was ill-equipped because God said.
The last three years have been a trial by fire, one of learning and correcting, the practice of grace.
My son is four and will begin Kindergarten next fall. I have been counting down the days, making plans for focusing on one child again, and eventually returning to some type of work. But through a series of events and realizations too lengthy to detail here, I am beginning to see that home school for the first few years may be our best option.
I am not a home-schooler. I was not even an elementary teacher. I was never a mommy-ing woman, even as a mother. I believe in public education.
Yet here I sit, flipped on my rear again, asking God why and how and “Seriously?”
In these three years I’ve also published one book, nearly finished another, and I whip out an occasional haiku for kicks. And I remember Zora Neale Hurston and that I wanted to observe people and write. I want to write transporting truth and beauty and something so familiar it makes you check your rear-view mirrors.
I have realized that my desire to work is not about my identity; it is about a deeply buried notion that my ability to add economic value is what makes me valuable.
God asked me one time in a desperate place if I would be willing to give up the vain accessories that decked my heart’s desire. Would I lay down the visible extras to do the thing for which I prayed? And as I answered, and the external vanities were cut away, I felt peace and direction which had been clouded.
God is allowing me to have the opportunity to pursue the occupations I always wanted while doing what is best for my family, even if I never earn an income or notoriety as a writer. My faith must rise to the uncertainty of finances and to the strength to face the tasks given. I must trust my fragile soul in the hands of my Creator, who gives me the true desires of my heart.
Book available now – Sparrow: Devotions in Prose and Verse