|*Life begins image from Ali Edwards' Firsts digital kit|
Today I dropped my oldest off at the middle school, but it was not until the afternoon that it hit me that this would have been the year. It would have started the first of three years that I would have been her reading and writing teacher had I stayed in our previous community in the K-8 school where I taught and the girls attended school.
Since my transition to teacher education at the university level two years ago, the start of the school year is always bitter sweet. There is about a month where I am back to work before my university students arrive and while K-12 teachers are preparing for and then welcoming their students. I drop my girls off to their schools and miss being one of the teachers within their same school. Once my own classes start and students arrive, I feel more at peace with occasional nostalgia.
This year though, there has been a shift. While I still miss my previous context, I have comfort in the bigger picture. When my husband and I were deciding whether or not to make the move, I did a lot of praying that if a transition to higher ed and a move back home closer to both sides of our families was in the best interest of our family in the bigger picture of our lives, the pieces would click into place. If conversely, it was better to stay, I wanted it to not work out for one reason or another.
Everything clicked into place, and I accepted the position just in time to welcome our third daughter into our lives, put our house on the market, and prepare for our transition. Last November, a little over a year in to my new position, I had a significant shift in making some tough decisions in order to have some healthy career boundaries and to allow for more of my focus to be on other aspects of my life.
Nonetheless, trips back to our old community would still make me emotional. I missed my colleagues and the families, I was sad about the girls not having access to bilingual instruction, it was hard to no longer be part of the school where I invested so much time and energy... While I was grateful for my new position and aware of the advantages of the position and being closer to family, it was still hard to let go of 7 years of experiences in another community. In between two trips to the community back in April, I knelt in the pew praying prior to Mass that would be followed by a Chris Stefanick event at our parish.
I got a sense that the reason why I moved back was to be more involved in my parish and to invest more in my own faith development. I thought about opportunities that opened up or were facilitated based on where we are - right here. right now. I considered what was already in motion and what would still be to come. I had the clarity of the bigger picture that I had prayed about; although it was somewhat surprising as it started to come into focus more, something I had not anticipating back when the transition was just a possibility. My thoughts were solely focused on: my career, family, and my girls' education. The realization of a deeper layer to the purpose of moving has helped me to feel settled about our shift.
Today when the thought came that this would have been the year, rather than feeling sadness, I thought about the rhythms and routines of the day. The girls and I attended morning Mass together as we will each Monday because their schools have a one-hour delay on Mondays. Our priest was able to give them a blessing for their first day. If I had been in a K-12 context, I would have been in my classroom and attending daily Mass would not be possible today or any day other than vacations. When I dropped the girls off, I was able to experience the moments as a mom, rather than rushing between mom and teacher. When I walked between the university and the church for a mid-day meeting followed by praying the rosary in the quiet church, I was grateful for the proximity of the university and church, as well as the flexibility of my schedule. I met the girls at the end of the day for a check-in on their day and prayer and then switched back to work.
Sometimes trusting in God's plan for our lives requires us to take a step without knowing for sure how it will all work out and without knowing the why behind being drawn to a certain direction. It requires moving out of comfort zones and taking risks. It requires patience and reflection to connect the different pieces and room for surprise and a shift in direction. This is just the start.
Lead me, Lord. Help me to trust in your plan for me and to take the steps that you would like me to even when there is no way for me to comprehend your big picture. Help me to be amazed with the way you help different pieces come together and to recognize where you are calling me to move.