My decision to leave teaching was the hardest decision of my life. I cried almost every day between Christmas (when I made the decision to quit teaching) and my first day at the mission - July 1st. During that time, countless teens and their parents told me how much my presence in the school had meant to them and I saw that God truly had used me there. Still, I was convinced that God could do even more significant things if I were in full-time Christian vocation where I could talk openly of God all of the time and so, with heart breaking, I said my good-byes and headed into what I thought God wanted from me.
The next 3 years of my life in Chicago were priceless lessons but extremely difficult for me. Though I enjoyed many aspects of my work with the homeless and my work at my church as a director of children's ministries, inside I longed to return to the schools. I love people so I enjoyed the opportunities God had given me, but I missed working with teens and helping them develop their character and dreams. Even though God used me at both jobs, I didn't feel as used of God or as fulfilled inside as I had when I was teaching. I tried to love both jobs with the same kind of passion I had felt for my teaching, but I couldn't. Yet inside, I couldn't admit that I really wanted to go back into teaching. I was convinced that it was my own selfish desires that were pulling me back toward teaching and that it was actually an attack of the devil to try to get me to leave what I thought God had called me to do.
Throughout all of this time, I think God was trying to show me that my desires to teach were not wrong and in fact, were from Him, but I was too stubborn and too proud to actually listen to Him. Finally, to get my attention, I suddenly cracked. After one of the most successful Vacation Bible School programs in the church's history, I began crying and couldn't stop. I thought I was just tired, but when it went on for more than two weeks, I realized it must be something more. I took a 2 week's leave of absence and got counsel from my former pastors and a good Christian counselor. After learning that I had suffered a nervous breakdown (with no signs leading up to it), I began questioning if I truly was where God wanted me. After much reflection and the advise of loved ones, I decided to resign and return to teaching. When I made the decision, the tears stopped and I understood what God was saying to me.
One of the biggest things God taught me is that I don't have to earn His love or approval through a job - that is what grace is all about. I was and am amazed at God's unconditional and undeserved love all over again. I don't have to do anything to try to earn His favor. He has already granted me that favor and it is foolish for me to try to earn it.
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