Challenges of a good thing
Last spring, I informed my principal and school that I wouldn't be returning to teach this year. Since our summers are usually busier than the school year, the truth of that reality hasn't really hit until recently. I've had about good two solid months "off" without camps or week-long trips or the other things that take up summer. For the first time, my days are my own. I have filled my days with activities I always wanted to do but didn't have time for, at least not enough time to make it consistent - exercising, prayer, reading, crafting, cooking, cleaning, composing, and visiting. In a phrase, I have become the stay-at-home-wife.
In so many ways, it has been amazing. I feel healthier, calmer, balanced. Honestly, who wouldn't? Even people who say they would get bored would probably benefit from a good amount of time home. But that's not what this post is about. This post is about the challenges.
That's right. Challenges. First of all, my work shaped my identity. I have never not worked. Whether I was a student or a teacher, I have always had some type of job. Once I made my decision eight years ago to become a teacher, I got on that teaching path and never veered. Teaching brought stress, yes, but it also brought satisfaction and joy. I loved the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt after completing a semester or school year. And of course, I loved the recognition. As much as I didn't want my work to become mixed in with my identity, it did. And so here I am now, trying to understand that my identity and value and worth haven't changed when so much of it was wrapped up in what I did...which is no longer what I do.
Second, my work brought security. My husband has been in ministry since before we were married, and although God has always been faithful and every church Robby has served has been good, there is still a sense of risk involved for me. My job felt somewhat like the back-up: if anything ever went wrong in a church, we had my job to cover us. That loss of security has hit even harder this past couple of weeks as we've been dealing with switching from my benefits to his.
Finally, my work made it possible to have lots of "wants." We are taken care of now. We have everything we need -- and so much more. But many of the extra things we did before have had to be altered or cut altogether, and unfortunately, I miss them more than I thought I would! I realize that a number of those "activities" were things I did when I was bored or when I needed a boost, things that provided a quick effect with little energy, and if I'm being honest, things that I felt entitled to because I had worked hard for my money!
I still believe that this was a decision we made with God's blessing. I just wasn't prepared for such a seemingly good thing to bring these challenges.