September 2007. I’m driving along, minding my own business, when a question flashes across my thought, in second person, as if it’s coming from somewhere outside my own consciousness: What would you say if I told you I wanted you back in the classroom?
“Let me get back to you on that,” I choke, and for three days, I wrestle with the idea, remembering how rough my first year was and why I swore I’d never teach again.
I finally come up with a less-than-reverent response: “I don’t know how you think you’re going to pull this off, but you’re the omnipotent one. I’m not helping you with this, but if you’re bound and determined to do it, you just knock yourself out.”
Never, ever dare God to do anything.
March 2008. I get pink-slipped from the best job I’ve ever had.
September 2008. After a series of job changes, chance encounters, and offhand conversations, I find myself back in a sophomore English classroom. This time around, I’m ready for it, and I love it more than I ever imagined possible.
November 2011. I still love teaching, and I adore my students, but the constant demands of the job are wearing me down, and I can feel myself starting to burn out.
February 2012. Once again, I’m driving along, minding my own business, when another thought flashes across my consciousness:
You’ve done what I needed you to do. You don’t have to teach next year if you don’t want to.
Lovely thought, but I don’t trust it. I don’t have to teach next year if I don’t want to? What the hell is that supposed to mean? This is not how I understand God to work. People do not just get permission to make completely selfish decisions because they are tired. I shrug it off.
April 2012. We get word that our building will lose four teaching positions due to funding cuts.
I do the math. I’ve got enough seniority to be safe. But the most vulnerable person in my department also happens to be one of the best teachers in the building. He’s gotten through to kids I couldn’t reach, and he’s pushed kids past their own self-imposed limitations and demanded that they reach the potential most of them don’t even realize they have. We can’t lose him to budget cuts! My kids need him!
You don’t have to teach again next year if you don’t want to.
Suddenly it makes sense. I don’t have permission to make a selfish decision. I have permission to make the right decision. I need a break, and my kids need my colleague. It’s a no-brainer. I turn in my resignation, effective at the close of the school year.
Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “Whatever blesses one blesses all, … Spirit not matter, being the source of supply.”
She was right.
I will miss my kids, but I’ve already lined up an interesting new job, so in the end, I get a graceful exit from the classroom, a friend gets to keep a job he loves, and my kids get the teacher they need next year.
We are all blessed indeed.