I had an epiphany on Easter Sunday. It wasn’t the kind of realization one might expect to have on that particular day, but then again, maybe it was exactly the kind of thing one should learn on Resurrection Day. For me it was pretty huge. And like many life lessons, it was something that God had been trying to teach me for a long time. I just finally “got it.”
The man who took our picture on Sunday (for Facebook, of course!) is the head of the math department at a very prestigious private boarding school in town. They literally have students from all over the world. Out of the blue, right after taking our picture, he offered me a teaching job – part-time or possibly full-time if I was interested. My first thought was “Yes!,” not because I particularly wanted to teach high school math but because I’ve been wanting to leave my online teaching job for a while and needed a way to replace that income.
It didn’t take long, though, for me to realize that I couldn’t take the job. Teaching part-time would mean finding childcare for my children every day (likely involving them hanging out at their Dad’s office during that time – not ideal for anyone). Teaching full-time would require an end to homeschooling. I could not, in good conscience, drop them off at a school where I knew the education they would receive would be much inferior to that available to the students where I was going. Also, it would not be financially possible for them to attend the same school where I would be teaching.
More importantly, though, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t want to take the job. I felt confident that God had called us to homeschool. I was also pursuing speaking opportunities where I felt He might be leading. Teaching online allowed me tremendous flexibility in doing both. Returning to the classroom in this form would remove essentially all of that flexibility and make it very difficult, if not impossible, to continue doing what He had called me to do.
Normally, I would have agonized over this decision. I would have analyzed each minute pro and con of either side of the coin. It would have taken me several days to respond.
Not this time. I e-mailed my response that very night, and I cannot tell you how light I felt. A light bulb had finally turned on for me, and I posted the following on Facebook:
Freedom. That’s what I felt and finally understood.
Freedom is not shirking responsibilities; it’s knowing which responsibilities actually belong to me and which ones do not.
Freedom is not making excuses; it’s making choices in line with my personality, giftings, and calling.
Freedom is not avoiding relationships with people; it’s focusing my time and energy on the areas and relationships where I can be the most effective and being OK with the fact that someone else might be better suited for a particular position.
Freedom is not breaking all of the rules; it’s following His rules and not adding a bunch of new ones.
Freedom is being who and what He has created me to be – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
Are there times when I will need to do something outside of that lofty ideal for the sake of someone else? Absolutely. I am NOT well-suited for working in the childcare area on Sundays, but I helped out on Easter because there was an urgent need. There will always be things that simply have to be done, whether or not they are a perfect fit for my skill set. Freedom does not excuse me from serving in uncomfortable ways. But it does give me the clarity and wisdom to perhaps not take on long-term jobs that are not in line with God’s call on my life and the way He has designed me.
Putting me in charge of the 4-year-old class each week would be bad for everyone involved in the long-run. On the other hand, I just volunteered to speak as part of our new women’s ministry at church. There are other people who would feel far more comfortable working with little children than speaking in front of a group. We’re all different, and that’s OK. Freedom.
I have spent a great deal of my life trying to figure out who other people (friends, teachers, parents, … even God) wanted me to be, and then working hard to fit that mold. I’ve spent the last several years trying to understand what “freedom in Christ” truly means and never quite grasping it. I think I’m finally beginning to understand.
What about you? Is this a concept that is very familiar to you or maybe a bit uncomfortable? How have you experienced true freedom in your own life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.