The telling of this story is long overdue, and I’m excited to share it because if you know me at all, you know that I love bragging on the Lord’s faithfulness. He does greater things in my heart and life than I could ever imagine or deserve, and it is my privilege to make my life’s song one that shouts of His goodness.
I shared in one of my first posts about how the Lord provided a job for me within five days of arriving in Arkansas, and I had the joy of working at Sunshine School for five gloriously challenging months. I loved my kids, and I loved my coworkers, and I (still) love the mission of that incredible organization, but I realized pretty quickly that this was not where I was meant to stay long-term.
Being a teacher is hard, y’all. Being a preschool teacher is NOT glorified babysitting. And being a preschool teacher to children with a variety of disabilities and physical/social/emotional/mental challenges? It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. There was an entire month where I drove home from work every.single.day. in ugly tears. Most days I spent my 15-minute breaks listening to worship music in the bathroom, because it was the only way I could muster up the physical and emotional strength to walk back into the classroom. I wish I was joking.
At first, I was mostly ashamed of my misery, and tried to hide it from myself, from others, and even from God. I thought I was being ungrateful for this beautiful gift that He had given me, and I also worried that maybe this is just what being a grown-up and having a real job is supposed to be like. What if I’m just failing at being an adult? What if I’m not enough?
This was, after all, my very first full-time job, and really, my first experience of full-fledged adulthood, since I went on the Race shortly after graduating from college. And I think every recent graduate can identify with this experience – everyone expects that once you get that cap and gown and the not-so-little piece of paper, everything will just sort of fall into place. (Is anyone else’s diploma GIANT? When am I ever going to have the money to pay for a frame that big?) In reality, though, most of us got to the other side of that stage – hopefully without tripping, probably unemployed, and definitely broke – and our most prominent thought was I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.
So for a long time I chalked up my tears to the stress of stepping into adulthood and being in a new place and I fought desperately for contentment.
And I think that was good. Those months cultivated a dependence on the Lord that I wouldn’t have learned any other way. I got to a place where I could acknowledge that my job was hard, but I could still find joy in it. I knew that I wasn’t thriving, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t still be growing. I grew in gentleness, in forgiveness, and, boy, did I grow in patience! One of the greatest miracles I experienced during that season was literally feeling the Lord expand my capacity for patience in the exact moment that I cried out to Him for it (and only God could have heard my silent prayers over the screaming of a four year old). I can only imagine how He will teach me and grow me through motherhood someday!
After several months, though, I sensed the Lord gently whispering to my heart that He had something more for me. My immediate response was, “okay Lord, what do You want me to do? I’ll do whatever You ask of me.” I dare say that at this point in my walk with the Lord, blind obedience is relatively easy. That’s not to say that the things He asks me to do are always easy, and there are certainly times when doubts and questioning and my own stubborn will slow down the process. But, for the most part, I am at ease surrendering my decisions before Him and saying “Lord, where You lead me, I will follow.”
But this time was different. This time, I came before God expecting marching orders and instead, He asked me a question.
What do you want Me to do for you?
I was sure that I had misunderstood Him. Why would it matter what I wanted? My response was laced with confusion, “Um, whatever You want, Lord….” and I knew He heard the implied isn’t that what I’m supposed to say here?
Over the next few days, God revealed to me that He wasn’t looking for a Sunday School answer this time. He wasn’t asking me to be a soldier. He was inviting me to become acquainted with, and even embrace, my own desires. The very desires that He Himself placed within me.
And so, I began to set aside time for intentional prayer and meditation where I began to answer the question: Cassady, what do you want in a job? It felt a little like a brainstorming session, but it was definitely a form of prayer because I was constantly asking the Lord for help in silencing the voices of so-and-so says you should want this, and society says that this is most important, and even the ever-so-sneaky voice of shame that whispered this is what God wants you to want and He is going to be disappointed if you don’t put it on the list.
Finally, I had a list of four things that I wanted in my next job. And I was pretty sure that this job didn’t exist. So I presented my requests before the Lord with a twinge of hesitancy but, ultimately, a heart of peace because I knew that I had done exactly what He’d asked of me. I had answered His question and, in doing so, I planted my feet firmly on the path of owning and embracing desire. Not surprisingly, His Word is lighting my way.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…
who satisfies your desires with good things.”
That’s just a little peak at one of many things He is teaching me in this season. I am learning that my wants, needs, desires, and longings are not my enemies. And I am far from the end of this journey. So stay tuned, friends. Part two (where I’ll share what those four things on my list were, and *spoiler alert* about the job that satisfies them all and DOES exist!) is already in the works. 🙂
with love and wanderlust,