Saturday, July 24, 2010

I love the way HE loves me!

So, I think that God is perpetually giving me tests of patience and trust. While I think I am fairly patient, especially with other people (afterall, it is what I get told once I tell people my profession), I don’t think I am patient with things that pertain to my own life. This is evident through my relationship with Rob and most recently, with my job search process.

A couple of months ago, I had a small inkling that I would be in Montgomery County, which is where I did my student teaching. I am not quite sure how I got to this, but I just had a feeling; whether this was of myself or really of God, I had no idea.

So, throughout the application and interview process, I applied to 8 counties and had interviews with 5 counties. Mid-June was when things started rolling - had lots of (online and personal) interviews with the Human Resources Offices of 5 different counties.

On June 23rd, I got my first job offer, a K/1 life skills class in Charles County. While I was pretty pumped and excited about the job offer in itself, I wasn’t pumped and excited about the job. It was the type of class I wanted but it wasn’t what I wanted in terms of demographics and socio-economic status of students. Also, it was not ideal location-wise; I would have to move from PG County, a place where I felt convicted about being in (close to friends and loved ones, near possible churches). It didn’t feel completely right. So I eventually turned it down, knowing that God had more in store for me; I felt like I was only going to be taking it for the comfort and security of having a job rather than being excited for this job in itself. This was the first “real” risk that I have taken, in terms of my life: turning down something secure for something that was uncertain. It was really scary but a little invigorating too. So I came off of that, with an attitude trusting in God to provide, knowing that I was not supposed to be there. Around the same time, I also read the story of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis; I read about how Sarah and Abraham tried to conceive to fulfill God’s promise on their own; they tried to achieve something that only God could provide on their own terms and efforts (which kind of blew up in their faces), rather than waiting on God’s provision and timing. I was really convicted and saw taking this job as a means of trying to “save my life,” trying to provide for myself on my own terms rather than letting God be my “employer,” my provision.

About a couple of weeks afterwards, I was starting to get depressed about the risk that I had taken. I was hearing things from different counties that were higher on the preference list (Anne Arundel and Montgomery) that the job market was not looking good, especially for the life skills type classes I wanted. I was very upset with myself, for possibly making the wrong choice and not listening to the God who knew best for me. At the same time, I also started to seriously doubt God - I thought he was withholding from me, that he would not provide. I knew truth (the fact that God IS the great provider and that God IS good) but I did not feel this truth in my heart, especially given the circumstances. I had lost the joy I feel from God for a short time.

So I decided to contact Charles County once again; I asked them if they had filled the position and if they had any other positions open. They still had the position I applied for open and they had a position in a pre-k class at a Title 1 school. This seemed a little more promising to me, especially with the demographic and type of student! Before the interview, I had another weird little feeling: “I am going to get this job today; but I am not going to take it, because I am going to accept my third offer.” Really weird. I kind of struggled with whether this was something that was of myself or that was of God. I interviewed with the school and got the job an hour after I interviewed; however, it was not the type of classroom that I wanted (it would be co-teaching with another teacher) and obviously still not location-ideal.

With the knowledge of what was going on in other counties, I was torn between the two job offers, choosing the type of classroom (self-contained classroom vs. inclusion classroom) and type of student being served, based on income (rich area vs. area of low income). After much thought, I figured that my passion lies with students who have severe disabilities and that I loved giving instruction in the community and working in a more one-on-one setting. I had a couple of days to decide; I was pretty sure that I would choose the first job offer, especially since it aligns closely to the type of classroom I wanted to be in.

However, God turned things a little upside-down on Thursday, 2 days after I got my second job offer and after I had almost for sure made up my mind. Montgomery County passed my name onto the principals and sent me a link to apply directly to schools and programs that sparked my interests. I was a little floored. I was also a little frustrated. How can God throw this curveball in my face? It seemed as if he was asking me to once again take a step of faith, to trust Him, to follow what He was calling me towards. This was hard enough to do the first time, but AGAIN!?

The next day, a school with a 4/5 SCB (school community based; programs that serve students with severe disabilities, working on functional academics, life skills and how to function in the community) program in Sandy Spring gave me a call for an interview. We set one up for Monday, which was when I was supposed to let Charles County know (this was a little bit of a cause for concern but besides the point). This school was about 10 minutes from my previous placement and only 30 minutes from my house. I was really excited about this opportunity; it was the exact type of classroom and location-ideal for previous convictions. I also learned from my mentor teacher, who worked there, that the school serves a diverse population, that there are housing projects near the school that feeds into it. I was really excited; God was doing something really cool and big. My mentor teacher e-mailed me during the weekend and told me the assistant principal was her supervisor at our school and she sang my praises to the assistant principal, who would be in charge of the SCB program and at the interview. I was really excited and thinking about how eerily this all was working together. The interview went really well and I left with confidence; I wasn’t sure whether it was a for sure thing, but after talking to a lot of people who I kept VERY up to date with this process, they assured me that things were looking good, especially with the assistant principals many compliments. I wasn’t supposed to hear until Wednesday, which was strange because I was used to hearing from the Charles County schools within the hour of interviewing. I went to Columbia that night, anxious for the decision on Wednesday, and met with my friend Ashley. On my way, it started raining really hard. I was driving in my car, singing praise songs to Jesus for such an opportunity, praying for patience and for guidance. As I was singing, the rain subsided for a bit and a rainbow appeared right before my eyes. I had a melting, beautiful feeling in my heart, knowing that Jesus was showing my very visibly that everything would be okay and that it would work out. I also had been thinking about and meditating on the verse, “Be still before the Lord and patiently wait on Him.” I was letting things go, giving up my grip and control on the situation for the God who knows better than I do to deal with it.

I called Charles County the next day and told them that they should move forward, as I couldn’t make a decision. I got a call from the assistant principal from the Montgomery County school a couple of hours later, telling me I had gotten the job! I ecstatically jumped up and down at the message. She called me back an hour later and I accepted the job, with a really good feeling in my heart. A HUGE burden had been lifted and I felt so excited and blessed.

God speaks to us. I can testify to this. They may be small whispers, but they are audible (especially when we listen) and God desires for us to hear Him. I don’t think I have ever audibly heard from God, but this was probably the closest experience.

It is also weird to think about how God might have been working, divinely orchestrating things before I even realized. I did not even want to be in Montgomery County for my student teaching; but without being in Montgomery County, would I have even ended up in this position as I have now? Would I have even experienced this experience that would cause me to feel so closely connected and lead by God? I am not sure if I can answer these questions but it is really cool to think about the beautiful ways that God orchestrates our lives. God sees us as special people and have given us intricately woven lives that allow us to feel and experience Him in different and beautiful ways.

I also feel like I believe truth even MORE. Jesus provides, as he tells us he will. He works things out for our good. He is on our SIDE - He is faithful to his promises. And most importantly, He guides us, step by step, holding out hands along the way, even when we don’t want to take steps further. He forgives us despite how often we mistrust Him (because He LOVES us so gosh darn much), and He uses the Holy Spirit to push us to trust in Him and holds out his hand to keep us from falling or sinking.

I feel like I could speak about this so much more but I will end with one simple truth: God is good. :)