I have been struggling. Feelings of discontent and unrest have ebbed and flowed as a normal part of my days of late. Feeling disconnected. Unseen. Unwanted. Echoes of old woundings reverberating in my chest.
I hear myself wondering: There must be something more. I must be something more. I must do something more. I am not good enough. I am not doing enough. Enough what? Making enough money. Earning my keep. Not enough hours. Not enough clients. What was I thinking?
Six years ago I made a leap. A big leap. Some thought I was nuts. Others admired me for my “bravery.” And others cheered me on to “follow my dreams – you only live once, you know!”
Six years ago I was teaching full-time at a local high school that provided a regular salary and really good health care benefits. It was a position I held for 14 years. That’s a long time. And it was safe. Predictable. With awesome breaks (Who gets paid for three months off?). Who, in their right mind, would want to leave such stability, such predictability, such safety?
Well, apparently this fool.
Six years ago I chose to retire from the safety of my long-held teaching career and take a flying leap off of a very steep cliff into the unknown of a new career. This career required additional education. A lot of additional education. Professional licensure – oh! wait – and a two-tiered licensure process at that! All totaled: three years of classroom work, a year of internship, and now, continuing years of professional training and experience under supervision until I meet the required number of hours for full licensure. This is a lot of time spent in transition, especially for a second career started in my mid-forties.
Maybe I am nuts.
I hear your wheels turning. I hear your wonderings – why leave? If life was so good, why leave such a stable career?
Bottom line is this: I believe, without question, that I was called out of traditional high school teaching to serve, minister to, and to counsel those who have been used and abused and wounded as I have been. I believe I am called to serve and minister to those here, locally, as well as others overseas, in East Africa in particular. I believe I have been gifted opportunities of grace, healing, and redemption through the work I have done and continue to do with with my individual counselor, with the Allender Center, and with Open Hearts ministries. And I believe I am being called to pay it forward to others who are or have experienced the heart ache and pain of abuse at the hands of their care-givers, their spouses, their friends. I have been gifted goodness, kindness, and compassion. How can I not give these away?
Which brings me back to my predicament – the frustration and discontent I am feeling today because I am not “doing” enough, fully licensed yet, earning more, serving more.
Perhaps it is a holy discontent. Or perhaps it is an unhealthy impatience in a necessary process I must journey in order to continue to heal well and to serve others well.
When I stop and listen, wait quietly to hear the gentle whispering of my Savior’s voice, I hear but one consistent message, “Wait. Just wait. Quiet yourself, quiet your soul in me. Just wait. Right here. Shhh – I’ve got you.”
This leaves me in a difficult place.
My engine and my passion runs deep, hard, and fast. Impatience is stirred by seeing others, peers move past me on their professional roads. Questions and doubt swirl up around me in the dust as they pass by. And I wonder, “Why is it taking so long for me? Have I made a mistake? Should I go back to a high school classroom?”
And still I hear the whisper, “Wait.”
And so I wait, waiting in what feels like an in between place. It is a place between two lives: what was and what is becoming. It is a difficult place to be, to wait, to find rest. My heart and my soul do not rest well here in the in between. My soul groans. Doubt is strong. Fear is loud. The ground feels uncertain, uneven, unnerving.
Then, today as I walked into Starbucks, I think I heard His voice again. As I waited outside the restroom, I stood staring at a bright yellow canvas with the word “Tanzania” boldly printed across the top with two large elephants pictured walking beneath an acacia tree.
Then, as I stood in line to place my order, just above eye level was a cutout of the African continent in the color of sunflowers, the countries of Ethiopia and Kenya traced out in chocolate brown. Neatly lined-up in front were white bags of coffee, beautifully adorned in teal leaves and grasses with gold lettering spelling out “Kati Kati” on the front.
I read the display, “Kati Kati Blend is inspired by the Swahili for ‘between.’” And I heard Him say, “Can you rest here, in the ‘between,’ while you wait? Can you find rest here with me, even in the in between?”
And somehow between the Starbucks display and the smiling barista I felt my soul sigh in relief, “Yes. Yes, I can wait here in this ‘between’ space with You. Yes. Yes I can wait.”
“I am here,” He said to me again.
“I can rest,” I whispered, breathing a deep sigh of relief.
And the ground began to solidify under my feet, feeling stable once again.
At Starbucks, finding soul-rest and stability. Who knew?
Erin O’Connor’s favorite name to be called is “Grandma,” and she enjoys making crafts with her granddaughter. Erin also has two grown children, lives in a suburb of Chicago, and is a professional counselor. She enjoys mentoring others, reading, writing, and seeing God’s handiwork in nature. Erin is a contributing author of several devotionals published in Quiet Reflections of Hope. Erin has begun her journey of experiencing kindness from God, with others, and for herself.