I got to spend my day in my living room. This alone is quite shocking since my full-time-working life ended last Friday. And since that chapter closed, I’ve already made life just as schedule-packed as it was when I was teaching. As frustrating as that is about myself, I’m certainly glad I made time for normal things like a play date with Jack’s buddy, Judah. The little fox kits wrestled on our basement floor and created imaginary lands for an afternoon, and I’ve so missed our days of friends, apple slice smiley faces, and hallway costume parades. And I’m glad I baked pumpkin cookies with cinnamon glaze for our Cable group, because–finally–I could be the one that comes with the study finished and a snack ready rather than the one who breaks down in tears as soon as someone asks, “How are you?” And I completed a trip to Hobby Lobby with two wild boys in tow, stocking up on craft supplies (hopefully I still enjoy crafting; I’m currently unsure). But one of the most important things I wanted to prioritize after the whirlwind of working settled was to reconnect with Kathy, the teen mom I mentor through YoungLives.
The end of this teaching assignment ended beautifully well. Not because of anything I did, of course, but because four students gave me written good-bye letters giving me some of the highest compliments I will ever receive. My classroom was compared to the warmth of a Thanksgiving table, my character was praised, and I was even told that the environment I created made my kids feel literally at home. Such beautiful ways to say goodbye and such uplifting words to help me remember that, at the end of the day, I still am–and perhaps will always be–a teacher. I’m still in awe of some of the contents of these letters, and I think I may actually keep them forever because out of this assignment blossomed several relationships that I hope last a long time. Students that have babysat for me, shared their stories with me, opened their wounds to me, and will hopefully join my family around the table some day soon to deepen our friendship even further. I loved these kids. More than I’ve loved students before. And I’m so grateful that, for a short season, I had the privilege of knowing them; and, for some, I was a role model and voice of truth.
But even though this assignment was beyond what I expected and with each passing day I could feel an anchoring purpose, I think about one of the most purposeful roles God has me in right now is mentoring Kathy. Coming alongside a young mom and putting my arm around her through the combination years of adolescence and young motherhood…I can’t think of more important work in this world. (Actually, sometimes I wonder if she is doing most of the mentoring. Perhaps she doesn’t realize I’m actually an insecure, struggling mother myself, trying to figure it all out.) Even though I’m still frayed and tired from the past three months, I’m so glad that we were able to do simple things like take pictures of our boys in a toy chest, watch Mulan, talk about relationships, rock our babies to sleep.
So thankful I could end my time at Black River focusing on such amazing and meaningful relationships. And I’m also grateful I could transition from one area of God’s purpose for me right to another. As I navigate some pretty significant challenges in my life, I’m just so grateful that He continues to use me. I’m pathetic, lost, broken, and insecure…but as I’m learning more and more, that’s precisely what he uses to make such beautiful things.
Thank you, Jesus.