There’s nothing like teaching to show you how much of a student you really are.
Honestly, student-teaching has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. I think I’ve cried more this quarter than I have in my whole time at Northwestern. It’s so, so hard. The learning curve is ridiculously steep, especially for someone like me, who is not a natural planner or organizer or multi-tasker.
I love my students, but to be honest, I don’t know if I want to teach after graduation. Don’t get me wrong–I have enormous respect for teachers. If anything, my time in the classroom has shown me that teaching is actually the one of the most difficult, challenging, refining, and worthy vocations there is. But is it for me? I don’t know. I’m figuring it out. Youth ministry. Publishing. Editing. Writing. These are also options. Teaching is only one.
One thing, though, that I know is that, no matter what I choose to do after I graduate, God will always be in the business of being my Teacher. He will be then, and He certainly is now. I’ve learned so, so much from Him this quarter.
He is teaching me hard work. He is also teaching me that sometimes hard work is not enough. He is teaching me humility–knee-bending, head-shaking, tear-spilling humility. He is teaching me that my worth is in Him and not in others’ opinions of me, personal or professional. He is teaching me that I cannot last a single hour in that classroom without Him. He is teaching me that it is okay to fail–spectacularly, horribly, embarrassingly–because Christ has already declared me righteous and victorious. He is teaching me the urgency of loving others. That I there will never be enough time for me to be perfect, but that there is always enough time for me to love. He is teaching me to give up my rights to be understood, to be respected, to have a good reputation, to be comfortable, to be successful.
He is teaching me to thank Him for the things that hurt. To thank Him for the prayers He answers with “No.” To thank Him for the things that humiliate. He is teaching me that joy and happiness are not the same thing–that even when I am unhappy and filled with dread, that there is still abundant, cup-running-over joy to be found in Christ. I must look for it intentionally, and treasure it. He is teaching me that my circumstances do not dictate who He is or His goodness. He is teaching me endurance and hope. Even in the worst possible situations, He is good. When literally every single area of my life is crumbling like a sandcastle in a storm, He is the Rock that stands firm and strong and sovereign. He is teaching me that the valley is not my home.
He is teaching me that He will carry me when I am not strong enough. He is teaching me that steps of faith in the small areas are just as important as steps of faith in the big areas. He is teaching me that He does not change, and He does not lie. He is teaching me that He is still calling me to do ministry, to go to the nations, but also that those things might not look like what I thought they would look like two years ago. He is teaching me that I cannot live by striving or by managing others’ opinions of me or keeping up appearances–that is surviving, not living. Jesus, on the other hand, came that I might have life to the full, and that’s what He wants for me. He is teaching me that even when I feel most unusable, He can still use me to make His glory and His gospel known. He is teaching me to have faith. To look up, not out.
Through my students and my mentors and His gentle voice in my ear, He is teaching me, over and over again, that I am forgiven for my inadequacies, for every dire mistake, every failed lesson, every unclear answer, every awkward phrase. I continue to mess up, but somehow my students continue to learn, and God continues to be great. He is teaching me that He loves me, in spite of the mess, in spite of me.
He is teaching me His own heart.
And that is one lesson I hope to never stop learning.
P.S. This is a great song about God being there in all circumstances. Check it out.