Growing up, doing God’s will meant going into full time Christian ministry. I remember when I was 13, I surrendered my life to do whatever God wanted me to do. I didn’t know what exactly that was but the only options I knew about was being a preacher, Christian school teacher, or a missionary. I was eliminated from being a preacher because of my gender. I was terrified to be a missionary. I remember praying for God not to send me to Africa! So, that left being a Christian school teacher and when I was 14, I felt that God was calling me to be a Christian school teacher. By the time I was 16, I knew I wanted to be a coach and teach PE and that is exactly what I set out to do. I graduated from a Christian College with a degree in education. I remember when the doubts about my future began to form. It was my senior year in college and after I did my student teaching, I was not so sure that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but at that point, I only had 1 semester of school left and it was too late to change my major. I graduated and went to teach in a Christian school in North Carolina. I never felt so lost in all my life. I began to question if that was really what God wanted me to do or if I was doing this because I pressured into it. The advice that I was given was not to quit after my first year and that it would get better. So, I took this advice and moved to a school outside Atlanta. I was there for 3 years and I was miserable just about the whole time I was there. (There is so much more I could write about here but will save it for another post). I finally decided that teaching school was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I chose not to come back the next year. I had no idea what I was going to do and to top that off, I was going through a major crisis in my faith. Long story short, I moved to Charleston, SC and took a job working in a group home for juvenile delinquents. I fell in love with this job and it didn’t take me long to realize what I wanted to do with my life. I then worked at a Outdoor Wilderness Program in Georgia for 3 ½ years and have been working with mentally retarded children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders for 4 years. There have been many ups and downs during these years but I always felt like I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Many people think that once you think you know God’s will that it doesn’t change, and I have been questioned on several occasions about my decision to step out of teaching. I realized a few years ago that God called me to work with children, not just be a Christian school teacher. Being that was the only thing I had to connect to God’s will that worked with children, it just seemed normal. Sometimes I question whether I will do this for the rest of my life, but I don’t worry about it because God has led me this far and He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.
Last week my mother celebrated thirty years of teaching at Raleigh Christian Academy. It is an accomplishment that she has been in the same profession for thirty years but an even bigger accomplishment that she did it at the same school. I know that it hasn’t always been easy for her. I am sure there are times when the easy thing to do would have been to leave but she knew it was not the right thing. That is one lesson that I have learned from mother after all these years. The right thing is not always the easy thing.
When she took that job thirty years ago, she never dreamed that she would have such a great influence in so many different kids lives. Many of the students that she has taught over the years have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, businessmen/women, police officers, teachers, preachers, missionaries, youth pastors, musicians,and the list could go on and on. She started out teaching elementary and now teaches Honors and AP English. She even did a few years as an elementary principal, but realized that her place was in the classroom. She has been involved in the music program at the school and has spent many years as the pianist for the choir at school. She is a very gifted musician playing the piano, the organ, and the violin. She made sure that my brother and I were given opportunities to be involved in music. To this day, my brother and I both sing on Praise Teams at our different churches. While watching sports is not necessarily her cup of tea, she was at most of my basketball and softball games. Even when they were out of town. She may not have necessarily enjoyed them, but her kids were out there and so there she sat.
As a teenager, I always thought that my mother and I had nothing in common. Our personalities are very different, but the older I get, the more I realize how much like my mother I am. My love for books and music comes from my mother. My desire to not just have a job but have a career in which I can make an impact comes from mother. My mother instilled in me a job worth doing, is worth doing right. I can’t tell you how many times she made me do things over and over until it was right. I didn’t like it at the time, but as an adult, I am glad she did. She taught me to take responsibility for my actions, and not make excuses. Although she swore I was going to write a book on excuses some day. I could come up with them. I am sure there have been many days when she wondered what in the world she was going to do with me. I know I was not the easiest child in the world to deal with, and there were days when it seemed that all we did was butt heads. Believe it or not, I have a stubborn streak. I was more quiet about it than my brother though. He would just flat out dig his heels in about something, whereas I would say okay, and then go do what I wanted to do. I think we finally made a break through in our relationship when I became an adult and we were finally able to admit that we just didn’t understand each other. Since then, I have made more effort to understand her, and I know she has made more effort to understand me.
I think the most important thing that my mother has taught me is commitment. She has modeled this by her commitment to Raleigh Christian Academy for 30 years and this September, she will have been married to my father for 40 years. In this day and age, this is quite an accomplishment. I know it hasn’t always been easy for her and I am sure there were days she wanted to throw in the towel. The most important commitment that she has role modeled to me is her commitment to doing God’s will no matter what the costs may be. It is her commitment to God that has enabled her to be successful in the other areas of her life. Sometimes being a teacher can be a thankless job, but I am thankful for my mother and the influence that she has had on my life. I am confident that when she stands before the Lord at the end of her life she will hear “Well done my good and faithful servant.”