In my young life, I have had the privilege two times, to extend written words of wisdom to young women graduating high school. This last weekend, I pulled out my large, yellow legal pad from the contents filed on the right side of our office desk. I thought back to the moment, two years ago, when I did this for another young woman from Virginia who I thought and think of fondly. I was on the cusp of my own major life transition, and as I wrote to her, I wrote to myself. Two years into the future, I found myself penning similar words to another young woman, here in Oklahoma at a time that it was beneficial to be reminded. In so many words, my advice boiled down to three things. Be “all in.” Don’t just dangle your toes in the water, dive in. Remember, you are gifted to make a name for Jesus, not a name for yourself. Laugh; always make room for laughter.
My second year as a preschool teacher of young 2 year olds, has once again ended. When I was initially offered the job two years ago, I agreed because of the tuition benefit for my child. Young 2’s was not my first choice, but I said yes. Sitting at the end of year two, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and said yes to something that I wasn’t certain I could tackle with excellence. Although I was unsure of my placement, the Lord was certain. There were days I would drive to work, my hands gripping the wheel of our blue, Honda Odyssey, talking loudly to God. “God, I can’t do this, it’s too hard. Yet, I am choosing to believe that you placed me here for your greater purpose.”
I wrestled with the decision to remain a preschool teacher after my son graduated to kindergarten. Though my flesh wanted to relent, His spirit would not release me from this work. He challenged me not to quit simply because something was hard, but to see the children with a momma’s heart and to love enthusiastically. When I began to look at being a preschool teacher as an opportunity to come alongside parents and assure them that their children were well loved, when I began to see the children as though they were my own, and when I recognized that I wasn’t just an employee, but a minister to my co-workers, I gave margin to the Lord to do the work He intended to do when He placed me their initially. When I took my own advice, to be “all in,” to use my gifts to honor Him and to laugh and bring laughter, it stopped being about a job and me. It became about Him and His ministry.
When texts, hand written cards, conversations and social media posts communicated, “You and your co-teacher were an answer to prayer.” “I can’t imagine this year without your humor written in.” “My child loves you and you have helped him grow so much.” I see and taste the harvest of a life being about Him and His capabilities and not about my ineptitude. I know that in my own efforts, such things could not be said of me. Yet, in being a willing vessel, whether I understand His methods or not, He can far exceed my abilities.
From a heart that is still learning and being molded, yet tasting the benefit of it being about Jesus, I cannot encourage you, the reader, enough… “Be all in,” withhold nothing. Know that you are gifted to make a name for Him, not a name for yourself. Most definitely, bring laughter to the scene.
Who knows, you may just find yourself teaching and loving a group of people you never foresaw yourself embracing and you may just discover passions that have lain dormant within. That is, until you said yes, not to the task, but to His lead.