Explaining this is hard because my mind is circumventing through 37 years of data. I’ll try.
Last December I felt Something shifting in my mind as to what the future held for me. I’ve spent years trying to navigate through a period of my life filled with blessing and chaos.
A year after the birth of my youngest sweetie boy I hit a very strange place in my life where panic rushed in after a thought, “What next?”
There’s something about being busy with being a mom and not worrying about anything but wiping bottoms and cleaning up to keep your mind from thinking, “what next” types of thoughts.
I had spent years (see this is where my mind is going ballistic-because everything that I want to tell you has a predecessor thought that leads to another) going to school on and off between having my four babies. I was interested in Psychology because I think a LOT and really love to listen and talk with people about their lives. I love to share with others what I feel God has shown me over my years so far. It isn’t necessarily what is right for their lives, but I’ve always found that we heal from others’ stories. So, psychology is what I thought would best suit me for a college education and for life.
After Carson turned one year and I had my freak out thought and a few years of reeling from not just that question but many other physical stress/anxiety related symptoms that scared the crap out of me-I started on my journey to my “what’s next”.
I took another class or two, had a part-time job and became established with a new church family.
It has been hard at times, but has also been such a sweet experience of seeing how God gives me exactly the strength I need to charge the gates of Hell in my daily life. He’s so good.
Fast forward to December.
I hear a Word of some sort stirring. Crap, I have to back up again.
Two summers ago: I had been a connection group leader in the middle school at our church. I was loving and growing with a group of 8th grade girls. They were going into high school and I was asked to go to the summer youth camp with them at Daytona Beach. It was a hard and exhausting week staying at the Hilton in my own room with plenty of free time for reflection and time spent pouring love into teenage girls, but you know, these are the sacrifices I will make for the Kingdom. 😉 Seriously though, I had such an amazing time with these girls. They loved on me, and I on them. We talked about God and His love, and I shared how I had been down lonely roads where God picked me up off the messy floor of my life that I had made for myself and said, “Girl, I love you RIGHT here and now and forever.”
When I returned from camp, I was so full that I could have exploded. I felt called to ministry but had no idea what that looked like.
Over the past two years, I have come to realize that we are all in ministry. You do not need anything but faith to be in the ministry of Christ. Life is mission.
Back to December 2014. Sitting in my living room I asked God to guide me to the “what’s next” and I felt some free and peaceful thoughts come over me. “I don’t have to be a psychologist to help others. I can help others now. I can help others in the schools. I can help in the schools. Hmmmm. I can help others in the schools! That’s what teachers do! Maybe God is showing me that I should be a teacher! Wow. I’ve never wanted to be a teacher. I actually think I’ve said, “God help teachers!” when I was doing homework with a few of my children. But, if a teacher is what I should become, a teacher I will be.” <——- Those were my thoughts.
So, I registered for 3 classes that I needed to take before I could enter the education program at St. Petersburg College.
I LOVED the classes. It was fun getting to know other people and it was very interesting learning about school and the history of it. I was especially interested in the Equal Access information about religion in schools. I had been ignorant of this and had the mindset that the devil himself was orchestrating “No God in school” with his pitch fork in hand…chanting.
But, unfortunately, I learned that it was/is because of the behavior of religious denominations of the past. The denominations just couldn’t play nice in the sandbox for some reason. They were really mean to each other. It was sad division. I finished that course feeling more informed and understanding the law is not in place so that students will join the adversary’s team, but to protect them from the oppression of religion. It is unfortunate that we humans can become so side tracked by theological debates that the Gospel message of Christ is lost. The Equal Access law says that kids are more than welcome to have faith based/religious clubs during non-instructional hours at school, but they must be student led. That seems completely fair.
So, that may seem like a huge blurb that I just side tracked on but… it was deliberate. Hang with me.
After the classes wrapped up, I was pumped and ready to move forward. I still didn’t have a passion for education, but I thought loving kids would be sufficient.
Then, I signed up for the General Knowledge Test and got studied up. The test was fine except for the part about failing it. Well, I failed the math part because I hate math and because I was freaked out about having just failed the reading part. I ran out of time and therefore didn’t get to finish.
I was crushed. My pride was crushed. I needed that though. Summer had rolled in and it gave me plenty of mornings to sleep in and relax to get over the panic of the truth: I had to take the test again. As I started to get comfortable again, I started the dreadful habit of thinking. Did I really want to be a teacher? Not really. But, I did love being around kids and inspiring them. Was I just doubting myself because I failed the math? No, because I believed inside and out that I could pass it after studying. Thoughts thoughts and more thoughts.
At the end of the day I resigned that if I needed to put down my desired job description it would say: A Walker Through Life With People
I hadn’t seen any jobs that were describing they need that though. I thought:I’ll keep looking.
At this same time that I was “thinking”, I started to feel God giving me freedom. Freedom in the way of anti-anxiety meds to be honest. One day as I was drudging through another season of feeling LOADED down with stress with no emotional symptoms to follow it up with, I thought to myself… I’m tired. I am so tired. Not sleepy tired but tired and heavy. Not sad or unhappy with my life. Just tired of the nagging symptoms of anxiety that I had proven to myself I could live with.
I had to prove to my SELF that I could live without meds. The strength of my pride made me feel icky.
But then, it hit me like a ton of bricks and after countless nights of asking God to remove this anxiety, forgive me for some unmentionable sin that was cursing me with this anxiety (i know, ridiculous). It hit me. HARD. “I have given you help. Your flesh may fail, but I never will.” I had always held myself to a different standard. Others that took medicines for depression and other mental issues were fine to do so with no judgement but not me. Others could talk to a counselor about their issues they were struggling with, but not me. I had a huge catalyst one day not too long ago. I realized that my pride was my biggest problem. My pride was what I needed God’s help with because my pride is the biggest burden I carry. My pride says that I need to do things on my own so that I can save face. I thought that I was saving face from what others thought but soon realized that I don’t really care what others think. I was saving face from my SELF. I did not want to admit out loud to myself that I may always struggle with anxiety. I wanted God to fix me so that I wouldn’t have something “wrong” with me. ME. ME. ME. Always protecting myself from truly seeing myself. It’s hard to let God help you when you don’t want to need the help.
The day I decided to stop being afraid to feel my fears and pains but not stop AT them was the day I feel like I really started living.
I’m still working. I’m not finished. But, God is guiding me and I’m excited for the first time in a long time. The medicine is helping too. Thank God for the scientists that have the gift of creating something that helps squirrely brains like mine.
After the catalyst I started to really think I could own my own path. I realized that even thinking that I needed to pick a career path (that I had no desire to even have) was pre-constructed thinking that I don’t need to follow. I don’t want to live like that. I want to do things that I want and need to do. I like to work hard, but since I have the choice, I want to work toward things I love. Plus I have 4 kids and I’m tired. Just sayin.
I decided that I do not want to be a teacher even though I think I would be a good teacher. Hope that doesn’t sound too big headed! It’s just that I don’t want to be a teacher bad enough to become one. I decided that I would do substitute teaching instead and if I happened to adore it, I could go the teacher route later.
After receiving such peace about all of this, I thought that I would graze around the job market and see what part-time jobs were available.
A friend through her husband and then through my husband mentioned that I should call our youth pastor JJ about a part-time job working for First Priority. First Priority is an organization that helps students lead clubs in their schools to share their faith and all are welcome regardless of their faith background. It is in full swing in Hillsborough County and JJ really wanted to bring FP to Pinellas County.
I sent JJ a text asking about the position (this was before I really knew anything about FP) and he told me to call Amber.
I called Amber and really hit it off on the phone with her. She was dynamic, kind, but with the kind of attitude that communicated that she knew how to handle stuff. I liked that about her. And she and I both care more about students knowing God loves them and less about theological debates and denominations. I told her how I struggle with being irritable about legalistic issues and how they minimize the Gospel and she said she did too! We ended up meeting a couple of times for me to observe the First Priority meetings at some Tampa schools and what my job would be.
I became so excited and passionate about this possible job and how much it felt like a fit for my soul. I wasn’t afraid or insecure about whether I was good for it or not, I didn’t even think about it.
Longest-ever story short… I am the new Community Director for First Priority in Pinellas County.
After I left my first meeting with Amber I got tears in my eyes when I realized that God had indeed told me something in December when I asked Him to show me my “what’s next.”
Back to December 2014. Sitting in my living room thinking, I felt a peaceful thought process come over me. “I don’t have to be a psychologist to help others. I can help others now. I can help others in the schools. I can help in the schools. Hmmmm. I can help others in the schools! That’s what teachers do! Maybe God is showing me that I should be a teacher! Wow. I’ve never wanted to be a teacher. I actually think I’ve said, “God help teachers!” when I was doing homework with a few of my children. But, if a teacher is what I should become, a teacher I will be.” <——- Those were my thoughts.
I’m living in my what’s next and I’m not sure about anything else except for the God fact that I am right where I belong. I feel God with me. It has all been worth the wait and all the twists and turns have been the exact route that was paved out for me. Even in my messy detours, I’ve been shown such wonderful mercy and have found Truth down darker alleys.
When He moves, you WILL eventually feel it.