I remember telling my parents that I wanted to be a pediatrician when I grew up. Obviously that didn’t happen, but one thing that I will always remember is my parents’ constant encouragement to remain faithful to God, and to let Him guide my life in whatever direction I was meant to take. This was a harder concept to grasp when I was younger because my choices were made for me. My parents chose what schools I attended because they were the ones who paid my tuition, drove me to and from school every day, and knew how much I needed to be challenged academically. As I got older and started to make more decisions independently, I began to realize the importance of my higher purpose than attending a good school and achieving a great career.
As a Christian, it is easy to spout off that I am meant to be an example to those around me. I am supposed to possess a certain “je ne sais quois” that is actually the God in me. What does this actually mean, though? It means that when I go to job interviews, people always tell me that I have a “calming personality”. It means that my students and coworkers tell me that I “never seem to yell or get angry.” It means that I do what I do with the intention of being the light in someone else’s life. Cheesiness aside, it means that whatever I do it should bring glory to God, first and foremost.
This is how I discovered my purpose in life. After teaching in Boston, I found a job as a high school English teacher in Dublin, New Hampshire. If you knew anything about Dublin I would be deeply surprised, but it is an extremely small town filled with trees, beautiful vistas, and little more than a couple of schools, a general store, and a town center contained in a small rotary. How did I end up here? I am still trying to figure that out, but I know that there is no other place where I am meant to be right now. Being here has shown me my purpose in life. I am meant to be in education helping students who need to be understood. Long story short, this led me to applying to Ph.D. programs for special education. I was accepted into a program at UT Austin, and I will be beginning there in the fall.
Moving to Dublin, I never imagined that I would be moving to Texas a year later. I definitely never imagined that I would be moving for a Ph.D. program, and certainly not in Special Education. I now realize that it was God working in my life all along. I came to this small town and knew almost immediately that it was not what I ultimately wanted, but I knew that God would provide a way for me to make use of the experience. I learned so much about myself – my teaching, my wants and needs for happiness – and it has all improved me for the better. I learned that being in a place where I was the minority for miles around strengthened my reliance upon God to be comfortable, own my differences, and continue to trust Him. I learned that teaching such a specialized population of students meant finding meaning in what I do – connecting with my students, and improving as a teacher who was more relatable, more concerned, and more committed to positively influencing their lives. I learned that I could be totally ok by myself: I could conduct my own bible studies, go to church on my own, grocery shop, pay bills, and save money. Overall, it has been the best learning experience of my life because I was taken out of my comfort zone and forced to see the silver lining of it all – even when I didn’t want to.
I was reading from the book of Job the other day, and although Job was seen as an upright man and a committed follower of God, he was tested to the ultimate brink and he STILL did not curse God. I looked at how I was feeling disappointed because my job did not allow me to travel the way I wanted, see my family as often as I wanted, or have as much fun as I wanted. My experience pales in comparison to that of Job, but it made me realize that I was being such a brat thinking of all the little things that I know will no longer be problems in a few months, and how much I was blessed to have these first world problems be my biggest worries. Job was put through real hardships, and he didn’t know when they would end. Reading about him and remembering that this man had serious issues – to the point of people turning against him and being alone – with only options of choosing or cursing God, this encouraged me to thank God even more. He knows my struggles and what I can handle. He knows my limits, why he placed me in my own version of the wilderness, and what it has done for me. I admire Job’s realization that no matter what, God is in control. No matter what was happening to him, he relied on God to deliver him. I thought of situations at work where I knew I was being tested. No matter what, God was in control. He allowed me to experience things that strengthened my convictions, my faith, and increased my focus on God instead of negativity. Like Job, I persevered through each test until God provided deliverance with more blessings than I ever expected.
Looking forward, I am amazed at how much God is continuing to bless me. He is taking care of all the finer details involved in my move, and showing me that it is all for His glory. I did not plan for this, and once again God has exceeded my expectations. All I wanted was something more desirable, and instead He gave me something that I have dreamed about and worked toward for years. I do not plan on becoming a millionaire working in special education. I plan on shining my light through my work with students and families to make educational access and opportunity a real possibility for more people. I also plan on continuing to rely on God to put all the pieces in place as I spend the next few years in the Lone Star State. God knows all of my goals in education, my career, a future marriage, and family. He knows the timeline according to which everything will happen. The past few months have been a much-needed reminder to rely on Him. I have my wishes, desires, and prayers, but my utmost desire is to fulfil the purpose for which He has created me. It took years of trying things out, thinking I could find success with God on the backburner, and coming to my senses through times of uncertainty for me to realize that God will bring everything to fruition as He sees fit. All I have to do is continue to trust in Him, live according to His word, and thank Him for all of His past blessings and those soon to come!