Hello summer vacation! Praise God for helping me persevere through my first year of teaching. For those of you who have been keeping in touch with me or following my blog, (thank you!), I have shared that teaching has been challenging and exhausting this year. However, I am thankful for an opportunity to serve children from low-income and broken families because it has pushed me to depend on God for strength, love, and compassion. Thank you to those of you who have prayed for me and encouraged me to press on through this year and remember that I have something better to look forward to one day.
If you have not read my earlier post about how God miraculously provided me with my first teaching job last September, then please first read A Testament to God’s Faithfulness. Though this may turn out to be my longest post, please bear with me as I continue my story so that you can go on this exciting journey with me. What happened over these last 2½ weeks has been just as, if not more, incredible and crazy than how I got my job.
March 15 was the last day to be notified if there was any possibility that I would be let go. So when I did not hear a word, I was fairly certain that I was safe from getting pink-slipped. Praise God! I was so blessed to get a full-time classroom teacher position close to home after being fresh out of my program and moving back home to NorCal for only two weeks. Now I was being blessed again to have a job next year and get to stay at the same school.
I was caught up thinking about which grade I would be placed in next year that it came as a surprise to me when 2½ weeks left into the school year, my principal gave me the news. Good news, I have a job next year! Bad news, it will not be at this school. I will be transferred to another school in the district because based on current enrollment, my principal had to make some cuts. Since I am the newest hire, I am the first to go.
Upon hearing the news, I was saddened to think that I will not be returning next year. I will have to say goodbye to all my coworkers, especially my grade level team whom I have developed good friendships with and worked so well with this year. I will not get to see my class of students finish elementary school and graduate on to middle school.
That night, I called my brother and shared with him the news and my anxieties for next year. He reminded me that my situation was similar to Peter’s when he walked on water in Matthew 14:28-33.
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
It was faith in God that allowed Peter to walk on water, but his doubts caused him to sink. In the same way, God had faithfully brought me thus far, but my circumstances caused me to worry and forget about God’s faithfulness in my life and tempted me to question God and His purpose for all things. I was reminded to put my trust back in the Lord.
It only took me a day to move on and get over my initial sadness because I began to cope by reasoning why God was sending me to another school. I thought, “Maybe the next school will be a better fit. Maybe I am not suitable to serve such a low-income Spanish-speaking community because I don’t speak Spanish and I don’t know how to empathize with my students and the financial difficulties and broken families they are growing up in. Maybe this and maybe that.” Then I remembered Proverbs 3:5-6.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
I realized that my first inclination was to understand the situation using logic rather than to trust that God knows and provides what is best for me. Though I could not understand why God was sending me to another school, I remembered 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
While I am going to another school, I should be thankful I didn’t get pink-slipped and I have a job next year. This experience reminded me that all these years of reading the Bible and memorizing verses are head knowledge if I don’t know how to apply them into my life. Too easily these spiritual disciplines can dangerously become a means of puffing me up. But as I meditated on these verses, I was personally reminded that God’s Word is living. This familiar Bible story of Peter that I have known since childhood and these two popular verses have brought peace and encouragement to me during this time.
I managed to pull through to the end, finishing the last day with my students last Thursday. After school, we had a staff party to celebrate the end of the school year. Before leaving, my principal opened her arms as if giving me a goodbye hug, but leaned in and whispered so that only I could hear, “Don’t pack up your things just yet. You may be able to stay.” Then she walked away, and I was left confused as to what she meant.
The next day, last Friday, I returned to school to turn in my keys. Just as I was making my final check around my classroom, I received a phone call from HR at 9:30, only 30 minutes before I was to meet the principal at my new school at 10:00. HR told me that one of my coworkers is moving up to become an instructional coach, so a classroom teacher position at my school has opened up for me! She asked if I wanted to stay at my school with the grade to be determined or move to the new school where I would teach Kindergarten. HR wanted my decision by 12:00, so I had two hours left and time was ticking.
Sitting in my empty classroom, I prayed for clarity, and knowing the indecisive me, I also prayed for peace not to waiver back and forth in my decision. It became clear to me that the opportunity to stay at the same school was another example of God’s faithfulness in my life. I thought about the difficulties of moving to a new school, which would feel like starting all over again. I would be teaching Kindergarten, which is a whole new ball game, with the principal, staff, grade level team, community, and everything else being new. Within an hour, I called HR back and made my decision to stay at the same school for next year!
What a sudden change of events again, which is just like how I got my job in the first place! Some people call this “luck,” but I know that it is God who faithfully worked things out again for my good so that He gets the glory. There really was no need to be anxious because God is taking care of me every step of the way.
During the last week of school, one of my students (the same one mentioned in my post, Tattletales) told me that he had found the true meaning of “luck.”
“Living Under Christ’s Kindness,” he said.
Amen, child! For better or for worse, God is good and gracious all the time!