Monday, February 27, 2023

The When and the Why

The other day, my mom brought up a 2019 post of mine about following God's calling that dealt with why I had decided (at the time) not to pursue an elementary education degree. At that point in time, I had thought the answer to that question was "no" when in reality the answer was "not yet."

I'd honestly forgotten about that post. Skimming through it now, there are a few things that make me cringe, and I see some of the reasons why I thought I would be a bad match for classroom teacher are things I still worry about today—managing a whole class, meeting every child's needs, differentiating instruction in a classroom setting. But what I mostly see is something I have thought about often even though I totally forgot about the post: I was considering teaching for all the wrong reasons. And even though it turns out the "what" wasn't ultimately wrong and outside of God's plan for my life, the reasons I was considering it and the things I would have been abandoning for it made it wrong at the time.

It's easiest and most straightforward to talk about why the "when" was wrong. Because I'm glad I didn't do it then for timing and logistical issues. For instance:

  • I didn't yet have my own car as I was still sharing my family's old minivan with my sister
  • I didn't have enough savings to pay for tuition until scholarships kicked in, let alone to weather quitting my primary job during my last year and a half of school
  • I not only would have had to take more classes due to it being before KSU pared down the education program to 120 hours, I would have been in school during COVID shutdowns
  • Building on that, I would have started my field experience during the 2020/2021 school year and yikes
  • I wouldn't necessarily have had the same opportunities in my classes to share things about God and the Bible, and I may not have had the same professors and definitely not the same classmates
  • I wouldn't have had the same kids in my field experience and I just can't imagine not working with those same children
  • I also would not have gone to Realm Makers, gotten to meet Jaye L. Knight and Tricia Mingerink in person, or published The Void—but those things honestly fit more in the "why"

The wrong "why" is a lot more personal, and a lot more important. Because I'm realizing that in life there are a lot of things that may not be wrong in and of themselves, but our motivation and attitude can make them wrong. And that's primarily what was wrong with me considering teaching back in early 2019.

One of the reasons was that I felt like my writing was going nowhere so I was going to give it up entirely. I'd been dealing with massive writer's block, I wasn't selling many books, and I was just going to walk away from all of it. Forever. That was something God didn't want me to do. I went to Realm Makers that summer, which revitalized my passion for writing, gave me the tools I needed to get The Void into publication shape, and—this I consider to be most important—was the avenue by which I was finally able to meet Jaye and Tricia. I'd known Jaye online for years already, since back when she was publishing as Molly Evangeline, but I hadn't met her in person and I barely knew Tricia. After that Realm Makers our friendship deepened and now, despite our geographical distance, I consider them some of my very best friends. And I really couldn't imagine life without their friendship. And while college is causing writing to be slow and painfully sporadic and my schedule makes getting together with my friends much more difficult, I know it's for a time, and it's not forever. And writing and these friendships are something I don't ever want to do without.

The other reason I was considering teaching was escape. I had some things going on in my personal life at the time that I just really wanted to escape. And I've had to realize that running away from difficult things is not the way to handle it. You have to face it, work through it, not just ditch everything and run. Life is hard. That's just a reality. We're promised trials in life. God will get us through them. But it's not a good idea to do something else—even if that thing might be good in and of itself—just to get away from our troubles.

But pursuing something for the right reasons is a different thing entirely. Pursuing it because that's what God is calling us to now is a good thing. Pursuing teaching because God has gifted me in teaching and this is how He seems to be leading me to use that gift in this season is right. Pursuing it because I have a heart for children is a good thing. Pursuing it because God has opened those doors now is a good thing. And yes, there were financial reasons involved in the decision as well because that's the reality of the world we live in, but I've approached even those financial aspects of the decision from a different perspective and motivation than I did four years ago.

It all goes back to the heart. Even when we do things for the wrong reason, God can still use it for good because He's sovereign and He works all things for good for them who love Him and are called according to His purpose. But it's so much better when we seek Him not only for the what and the when, but to get our hearts right in regards to the why. So many things go back to our attitudes and motivations. No matter what we're doing, let it all go back to this:

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 
—1 Corinthians 10:41

Note: Doing the wrong thing for what we might consider the "right" reasons is also a problem, but that's a topic for another day.