In church this morning, our deacon preached on the fallacy of basing our identity on things that can be taken away and stressed the need to place our identity in Christ alone. Immediately, my mind flew back quite a few years and relived a vivid lesson that depicts that truth.
After several years of teaching and experiencing the inner satisfaction and deep joy I felt in the classroom, I arrogantly concluded that this delight was simply a “part of being me,” something innate. Rather than considering this capacity to teach as the gift it is, I took the credit for it.
One summer that changed.
Although I did enjoy summer breaks, usually I ached to be back in the harness after only a few weeks. I expected this particular summer to be the same. It wasn’t.
When the July newspapers began displaying “back to school” ads, my emotions strongly revolted. Back to school?! No way, I was not ready! I had no desire to be back!
While I felt startled by the intensity of those negative emotions, I still blindly and foolishly expected all the eagerness to return in due time. Wasn’t that, after all, just a part of who I was?
No, it wasn’t and no, it didn’t.
Enrollment day, one week before classes were to commence, was a miserable day for me. I hated being there, hated the thought of being back in the classroom, and hated how trapped I felt. Through sheer determination I forced myself to interact with the parents and students.
That evening, I cried for a long time. The thought of returning to the classroom actually nauseated me physically as well as emotionally. Completely bewildered and absolutely desperate, I did the only thing there was to do: I cried out to the Lord. In a short time, He revealed the connection between my arrogant assumption that “loving school was just a part of being Betty” and this mysterious, sudden, and complete reversal of emotions.
Loving teaching is a gift , and as such, it can also be taken away. It is not innately mine. Repentance followed the revelation. God chose to return the gift. I reached out and accepted it along with the miracle of His forgiveness. Seven days later when classes commenced, I was eager to be there once more. Never again can I doubt that the love of teaching is a gift.
That would be a nice place to end the story, but I want to add a bit more. In the weeks, months, and years following that summer, as I often pondered that vivid life lesson, it occurred to me that since He is the One who gives the gift (or takes it away) I could humbly ask Him to enlarge and increase that gift. To give me more of the gift.
I came to believe that that request would please Him. After all, the purpose of these gifts is to build up the body of Christ. So, while I attempt to do my part in honing skills, in applying what I learn, and in learning from daily experience, I do ask Him (repeatedly) to do what I cannot do – to actually give me a greater portion of the gift, for His glory and the sake of the Kingdom.
CONTRIBUTOR: Betty Yoder