For years, I was determined that I would never become a teacher. Most likely, in my childish way, because so many people said that’s what I should do. And it made sense. I spent my Saturdays teaching teddy bears the alphabet on an old chalkboard… I clipped the corners of my Math books and gave a giant, flourishing checkmark… and I never ceased in telling others around me when they were “doing it wrong”. I liked going to school – nay, loved it – and I simply couldn’t take in enough language and history through my weekly library books.
I was a nerd. And not the cool kind.
But the phrase “become a teacher” refers to a career choice; a job, an occupation, a title with letters like BA and BEd that I can officially write behind my name. This is about something more – a desire, a calling, a vocation.
I have now completed three and a half years of teaching, nearly all of which were full time, and I have loved it. I am passionate about what I do, and never tire of coming up with creative ways to share how exciting learning can be – especially for those who don’t naturally enjoy it. My favourite thing about teaching has always been the relationships that I build with my students (“my kids”), and the memories that we make together over the months making mistakes, letting things ‘slip’, and climbing academic mountains. And I am especially blessed to have ended each of my teaching positions on a positive, memorable note.
But I’d be lying if I said I loved every part of it, all the time.
More often then not, I came home exhausted, without any energy to spend on the people and activities that were most important to me. Hidden in my journal are pages blotched with tears admitting how much of a failure I felt in my job, and how “nothing seems to work”. Every evening it seemed that I invested hours of creative planning and thoughtful evaluation, all for a group of young people who honestly couldn’t care less, and sometimes even said so. Most days I spent more time arguing with 17 year olds about why they need an English credit, than about how amazing and inspiring the written word is. I may have started out each morning excited to share my passions and interests with the students, but I usually ended it with feelings of shame and regret for exposing myself and what I deeply cared for. I felt the need to constantly defend myself as an educator, standing behind what I believed really mattered before both parents and students alike. It felt like an endless, losing, battle.
I know that there is no such a thing as the “perfect” career, and I know that whatever your day job is, there are probably days when you feel exactly the same way: businessman, nurse, counsellor, chef, cashier… they’ve all got their pros and cons. We know this. This is life. These are the realities of a job that we both love and hate at the same time.
But that’s just it. It’s not just about the job.
Last year, when I stepped back from the front of the classroom for a season, God affirmed this truth to me even more. Fulfilling our calling for Him as a desire of our hearts isn’t just about realizing what we’re good at and finding a good-paying job that matches. It’s about discovering each little thing that makes our heart yearn more for Him, that makes us want to share His insight with those around us, and hold nothing back when it comes to doing our best… all so that we can look up at our Father and say, “Look, Lord! See what I’ve learned from you! See what I can do for you! You have blessed me with so much!”
For me, that means a mixed bowl of languages, history books, young people, ambitions, dreams, creativity, colour, plants, seasons, baking, storytelling, laughter, memories, sharing, and learning…
… And I can include all of those things as a Classroom Teacher, which was the perfect venue for me to grow in my understanding of God, and pursue my passions within a supported, educational setting. I truly did love it, and I am so glad that I have been blessed with this career.
But I can also do those things as an Educational Assistant.
I can do those things as a Farmer and a gardener.
I can do those things as a Sunday School Teacher.
I can do those things as a writer.
And I can do those things as a mom.
This isn’t about whether I will ever go back to teaching in a classroom again or not. This isn’t about me looking at the role of “Mother” through rose-coloured, romantic lenses. This isn’t even about my childhood dream of becoming a “real” writer one day. In fact, it’s about how none of that really matters at all. Because as long as I stay in tune with His heart, my own desires will be met, and I know that they can come through any of the options above. I will learn. I will be passionate. I will care. I will share… And I will teach. And throughout every one of those facets, I know that I will be amazed by what God is showing me as I learn to see the world as He does.
That is my vocation. And that is the desire of my heart.
May you also find yours.