Sometimes it’s difficult to write about things as they’re going on because I become so consumed with what is directly in front of me, it’s nearly impossible to see how it will end – or even get better. Thankfully, I’ve been around enough in these 27 (almost 28!) years I’ve been able to see many situations improve – or, more importantly, seen Christ glorified through these situations!
By November 2009, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed and burnt out with my job. Being confronted with the reality of what some of these poor kids go through on a daily basis is always a hard pill for me to swallow. At least in LA, I was working with middle schoolers who were cognitively at an age where they could decide whether how their parents were living was how they wanted to live their lives. Working at an elementary school, though, these kids are subject to whatever it is their parents decide to do. And it broke my heart – and began consuming my thoughts. I realized I was starting to lose sight of what I believed in as I became more distracted by the devastation around me. I felt I wasn’t doing my part to help any of this get better – the Special Education department was quickly becoming everything I despised about what had been happening in LAUSD. Granted, it’s our first year creating this program and it’s easy to fall into what is known, familiar and comfortable; but I didn’t like it nonetheless. So, I created a plan. I considered what an ideal Special Education department would look like that would service the needs of ALL the students, not just mine already identified as Special Ed (anybody not in education has probably lost focus by now…and I’m sorry, I just have a terrible memory and this is more for me to remember all the the Lord has done and shown in my life so I can look back and continually praise Him!). At some point in November, the directors, my boss, the CEO, and the SpEd support staff gathered together and we discussed this plan. Everyone was on board but there was one major dilemma – where was the space needed to implement the plan?! We decided to brainstorm and come back together. Well, by December, things kept storming along. We kept reacting and kept putting out fires as they came up and it was nearly impossible to be proactive (something I am NOT comfortable with!). Over the break, I became aware of the fact that many things that were supposed to have been completed were not. And, at that point I decided to disengage a little bit. It is incredibly difficult to remain doing something with your whole heart that you do not believe in whole-heartedly. It wears you out, consumes you, distracts you – all of my roommates can attest to this happening in my life. And, for those friends who I neglected during these times; I apologize!
Two days after returning to work after a three week break, I was right back to where I had been. And I was finally at a point where I was unwilling to do that any longer. The things that weren’t getting done were jeopardizing my integrity at the school – and most importantly, were negatively impacting the students’ at the school. I compiled a list of occurrences that quickly showed me I was not making this all up; this was truly becoming a moral conviction. Wednesday, I stayed home to seek the Lord and decide what to do. During a run the week before, as I rationalized every reason I could not quit in the middle of the school year (disappointing the kids, my bosses, being jobless with no income, being unsure of what to do next), I clearly heard the Lord say ‘Are you willing to forsake all of this for Me?’ Whew – a little convicted. Was I willing to sacrifice my security, my reputation, my identity as a teacher and hard worker to stand up for righteousness? I started thinking about how I was a Christian and how people on my campus and my boss knew that – what would they think would I quit? And, more pressing on my mind; what would they think of Christ if I quit?! God turned it around for me that day, though. What would they think of Christ if I DIDN’T quit? And, regardless of that, was I even willing to lay aside all of my people-pleasing ways to do what was so uncomfortable, unsafe, and unknown?
The following Thursday began a chain of events that all seems a blur now – basically, while turning in my letter of resignation, I was told that they weren’t going to accept it. They said that I had been a dynamic influence on that campus and they weren’t willing to let me just walk away – what would I need to happen to make me willing to stay? Not exactly what I thought would happen – in fact, I had already thought about becoming a flight attendant, had turned in my application for substitute teaching, and had signed up for massage school again. However, going into that meeting was such an interesting situation – I felt so prayed up and prepared and was able to go in confidently stating my position in a professional way. It felt surreal because typically I am not that well-spoken in moments when I’m so nervous – all the credit goes to Christ!
A group of us met together the following week to readdress our original plan and discuss how we would make this happen so that students could start benefitting; after all, that is why we go into teaching, right?! We got approved to hire two additional staff and have meetings in the work for one more. We were provided more space, more resources, and more time to make some pretty incredible things happen there! Over the past month, I have not felt more motivated, encouraged, and inspired to do the work that I do.
It is so interesting to me that as we seek Christ, our perspective so drastically changes. The circumstances might not; in fact, they might even get seemingly worse. It infuriates me when churches and pastors try to ‘sell’ Jesus as this thing that we do when we want things to get better. Let me just tell you, my life FELL APART when I accepted Christ as my Savior almost 8 ½ years ago. We are GUARANTEED trials and tribulations and persecution…the verses relating to these issues say WHEN they happen, not IF. It’s not a question about if opposition will arise or the going will get tough – but when. And, then it is all about how we respond to it. Am I going to remain self-focused and get lost in a sea of doubt and discouragement – or am I going to press into knowing Christ more and continue to praise Him, to bless His name, to seek Him, to surrender to Him not in spite of what is going on – but BECAUSE of what is going on.
He also promises He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. And He is FAITHFUL. I have seen Him bless this step of obedience in incredible ways. It was not an easy thing to do, but we’re never told it’s always going to be easy. I can list some of the ways that He has blessed our little community, but I think I’ll wait until next weekend to do that. Keep you on your toes…and pursuing Him so you can get to know His heart for you more clearly!
I read a great article on the importance of remembering (hence the reason, I’m so grateful I blog or else I would have lost memories of so much…) The article brought up that if we don’t remember what God has done in our lives, “memories of who God is and what he has done over the years will slowly fade or distort as they simply accommodate to sinful, human expectations of who God is and how he acts.” I encourage you to remember….
WHAT IS HE DOING IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW?!?