For those of you that are following my post or have followed my post I apologize for not writing in quite a while. There is a perfectly good explanation I promise! She’s about 5′-1″ tall, prettiest hazel eyes you ever saw and serves as my most honest critic. I would often leave my posts up for her to read and we would talk about them when I got home from work. The last several posts were, in her words, “rushed” So, I took a hiatus. Forgive my verboseness.
I titled this post purpose because I want to talk about purpose. I’ve had jobs and a career but was never content in what I did. I’ve worked construction in many different forms, was a soldier, draftsman, and finally a project coordinator, all of which I did very well. But I was miserable. There was no joy in it for me.
In 2004 I found myself working for an OEM Auto parts manufacturer which is a very strange place for an architectural project manager to be, but they had a need for my services and I had a need for their money. Eventually the man that hired me moved on and I inherited a new boss. We did not care for one another and we both knew that eventually I would be let go but that he would have to manufacture a way to do so. During this time my wife and I had been working with young people at our church and I began to confess to her that I had always dreamed of being a teacher. She was surprised but supportive, so I began to pursue my Masters of Arts in Secondary Education. I cannot remember working harder towards any one thing in my life, but I relished the challenge.
I did eventually lose the manufacturing job and found myself the unemployed father of 5 Master’s student scrambling to make ends meet working whatever construction jobs that I could scrounge up. My wife never questioned our position and the good Lord kept a roof over out head and food in our mouths. I remember finishing my last course work class and filling out the paperwork to do my student teaching portion of the degree…and waiting. The money ran out and my wife and I discussed it. I found work with one of the world’s largest dollar stores in the corporate office. The money was good but I hated the work.
Meanwhile my placement advisor is struggling to find me a school. He called and told me that Sumner County said no the same day we applied and that Robertson County said no promises but they would look into it. So I worked and waited. Then Wednesday arrived. Phil, my placement advisor, sent me new paperwork to select two new districts. I had been struggling with this and had all but come to the conclusion that God had closed the door on this portion of my life and that I should stay where I was. I had composed an email to Phil and then decided to go to lunch before I sent it. I called my wife and we talked about what we should do. She reminded me that God had brought us this far and that we should continue to trust him. So we prayed and I went back to work. I sat at my desk and an email popped up. It was Phil and it was very criptic “I’m calling you” I raised me eyebrow, looked at my phone and almost jumped out of my skin phone when it rang.
Phil was nearly breathless when I answered, “You’re not going to believe this!” I shook my head and rolled my eyes as if he could see me and asked, “Believe what?” My world spun when he said “Robertson County just came through!” I did some quick calculations and figure that since it was the end of January this school year was out, I could stay where i was save some money and start next school year…”Ok…when do I start?” I nearly had to pick myself up off the floor when he responded “Monday” I asked “Monday, when?” He sounded exasperated “This coming Monday!”
This was a whole new set of problems! I had to call my wife and discuss finances…again. Then I had to go quit my job. I had a meeting to attend with my cooperating teacher and field supervisor the next day. So off to a running start and scrambling I embarked on the path of becoming a student teacher. At 42 years old I embarked upon the career I had always dreamed of. The thought shook me to my very core…me…a teacher.
When I started my cooperating teacher told me “Do not expect to get a job here. People retire or die from this school” By the time I left I had made some great friends and both the principal and cooperating teacher told me that if something came open they would give me a call. Student teaching complete…all done. We had enough money to get through to the start of the school year. I started filling out applications. Towards the start of the school year I had applications in at 8 school districts across two states. No calls. Nothing. My teacher friends told me to not be discouraged. But I was looking at my dwindling checking account, shrinking larder, and saw little or no hope.
It was the end of July and graduation day had finally arrived. My lovely bride and I were once again going to be walking down the aisle for the third time. We graduated together in High School, our wedding, and now she had earned her bachelors degree the same time I earned my masters. Our families, as they often do, planned an intimate after affair party, at which I discovered that the prime rib that I ate was tainted and I received a good dose of food poisoning. I was miserable. My wife tended to me, feeding me sprite, crackers, and a wonderful does of phenergan.
I finally dosed off at about 6:00 in the morning only to be awakened at 9:00 by my phone shattering the silence. I let it ring figuring a bill collector who had of late become aware of my phone number at an alarming rate. The phone fell silent. Silence is good. Then it chimed letting me know I had a voice mail. I stirred up the strength to get out of bed and get my phone off the dresser that stood ominously across the room. I fumbled my way through the menu’s and checked the message. It was a number I didn’t know and the voice was unfamiliar, but the message he left made my heart soar. It was a principal. And he wanted to interview me. Tomorrow.
The interview went well, so well in fact that I found myself waiting on a phone call the next day. I woke up figuring on a 9:00 AM phone call. 10:00 rolled around. 1:00 rolled around. 2:30 arrived. No phone call. My wife gathered out kids and told me that they were going to the library that she couldn’t take me anymore. I paced, and paced, and paced. 4:25 rolled around and she text me, “Anything?” I responded “No. I don’t know how much more broken God needs me to be because right now I am shattered. If I don’t hear back by 4:30 I’ll have my answer” I hit send noting the time as 4:28.
I was about to slip my phone back in my pocket when it rang in my hand. I figured it was my wife calling to console me and looked at the screen. It was him. Oh Lord…I answered. He greeted me and informed me that he had made a recommendation for the position. Dead silence. Recommendation…what did that mean? Did I have it or not? He broke the silence, “Congratulations! Welcome aboard! Now I know that I am hitting you with a lot of stuff but…” I wrote down his directions and all the information that he gave me as my mind reeled. We said our goodbyes and hung up.
I stared at my phone. I knew I had to call my wife but could not make my fingers work, besides my blood sugar must have spiked or she forgot to dust because I couldn’t focus for some reason. I will never forget the sound of her voice, and the hope, dread, anxiety, and concern in it as she said “Hello?” In a barely audible voice I told her “I got it” She didn’t hear me and had to ask, “what?” I managed a little more composure, “Honey I got it!” We shed tears of relief, and joy together. Since that time my life has been a whirl wind. I have become a friend, mentor, socialologist, counselor, psychologist, bouncer, and coach. When I was asked how could you be a teacher the only response that I had was how could I not?
I am finally living out the purpose that God intended me for, I pray everyday that with his help that I will be enough.