A Dream vs A Call

Growing up my favorite game to play was “school” where I was the teacher and anyone I could find to play with me was the student. I loved school and I still do. There has always been something about learning new material in an academic environment that led me to immense joy. I was more often than not the student who always connected with her teachers. Even more so, many of my teachers have left lasting impacts on my life.

With all of this being said, since I was in first grade, I wanted to be a teacher; it was my dream. It really was all I could talk about. When the time came for me to check the box next to a major, it seemed like the simple, obvious option; however, there was something deep within me that stirred.

I wasn’t sure what that stirring inside me was nor what it meant. Later, I had a hint about what it possibly could be, but it did not match my plan, causing me to ignore it. The stirring inside me became stronger as the time for college crept closer. I wrestled with it until I decided to vocalize my thought of what the stirring could possibly be. After lots of discouraging responses, I decided that I was misinterpreting the feeling inside, and I would continue the plan I had always known–to  be a teacher.

I arrived at Indiana Wesleyan a little less than a month ago. My time here has been a roller coaster. It was different than I thought it would be. For some reason, something just did not feel right. While I was navigating the transition of college, the stirring inside me rose again only this time it was stronger than ever before. At first, I ignored it and went about my classes, but I couldn’t ignore it for long.

It all started with a conversation with a Professor. She had just finished a lecture that I attended with Lexi, my roommate. I was not even her student as I had decided to attend with Lexi for fun. (I recognize that a student who attends a lecture for fun is a nerd.) She approached me and introduced herself, asking me what my major was. I responded that I was an elementary education major. She smiled and asked if I had always wanted to do that. I hesitated. The conversation led to her telling me that it was one hundred percent biblical for a woman to be in ministry, and that is where my story begins.

I didn’t expect any of this to happen. Classes started and I still felt like something was off. I was enjoying my classes, but not as much as I thought I would. There was one class, though, that I loved; it was theology. I prayed to the Lord asking why I was feeling confused and disheartened. I had been looking forward to college for so long, but I was in my room crying more than socializing.

One night, I was in my dorm studying, and two girls on my floor at separate times asked if I was a ministry major or if I had considered being one. They each followed with the idea that they saw me as a ministry major, which was why they asked. I laughed and told them I was in education, but later I thought about their questioning more seriously. That night I prayed to God for a significant amount of time, seeking out what God wanted for me.

The next day, I had a mandatory, one-on-one meeting with my theology professor. Our conversation was great; I was able to learn about her as she was able to learn about me. I thought we were finishing up our conversation until she stopped me and asked if I had ever considered that maybe I had a call to ministry. I just laughed.

I prayed harder than I ever had before, wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I was not content here, and I had not the slightest clue why. I asked God to make it abundantly clear what path he wanted me to pursue. My dream was always education, but maybe my call was something else. The following weekend, I grabbed my friend Rebekah and headed to Fort Wayne to visit my former youth pastor’s church.

The service started with an opening prayer, and the word’s nearly knocked me out of my seat. The pastor stated that he felt that there was anxiety in the room and that whether it was caused by change, a large decision, financial insecurity, or a loss to trust the Lord and give it to Him. Rebekah and I laughed as the prayer was so relevant it was as if God was slamming a brick in our faces, saying here is what I want you to do. As I tried to comprehend the prayer and what God was saying to me, Matt, took the stage. He began preaching, and his sermon was the icing on the cake.

When I really considered why I hadn’t chose ministry as my major, I always went back to the same thoughts. I was afraid and it wasn’t part of the plan. Also, I didn’t want to upset the people who had discouraged me. Then Matt opened his Bible and read the following verse: “…Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent for I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you…” -Acts 18:9-10

I knew right then what that stirring was and why I was so discontent at IWU. Today I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I chose to listen to God, and disregard my plans for myself. I chose to trust God. I met with my professor today and officially changed my major. I am now a christian ministries major with a minor in biblical literature. I am following my call that I know more clearly than ever to full time ministry. Only God knows exactly what that looks like, and I trust Him.

Since my decision, I have not stopped smiling. I have a couple of friends that I can already tell will be lifelong friends. My discontent is gone and the stirring inside my stomach is now buzzing inside my heart ready for whatever God has planned for me. This has not been my dream my whole life, but it has been my call, and God knew all along. I knew I always wanted to be a teacher, but I never knew it would be a teacher of the Word.

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Outside My Comfort Zone But Inside My Heart

My Spoken Word

Inside my bubble is cozy and warm. I am content and even more importantly, I feel safe. While I was growing up, my heart and my comfort zone took separate paths.

I have been fortunate enough to live within a community where most people are living the stereotypical American Dream. I grew up in a community where I went to a school that was well funded, full of committed teachers that taught because it was there passion not their job, and opportunities that were oozing. Traveling through life, I found that I took much of that for granted. I was wrapped up in the small things that were not going right; I missed out on all the big things that were. I might even go as far as to say I was sheltered.

My view on the world around me changed the day my friend asked me to go to a youth center in the inner city. If I am being honest, I had no idea what to expect. My friend explained that it was unlike anything I had experienced and to be prepared as it was outside my comfort zone. I expected the experience to be a couple feet outside my comfort zone, but it was more like a few miles.

Just 20 minutes away from my world, was a world I only saw in movies. We parked outside the center and I was afraid to get out of the car. We walked into the old, battered building. Little did I know that my heart would absorb the environment so much so that the walls of my comfort zone would shatter. It was as if I did not have a comfort zone at all. The girls played with my hair and talked to me about their lives. What was normal to them was unfathomable to me. What got me the most was the way they talked about their school.

The way those kids experienced school was directly opposite of what I endured. My heart broke for them. As I conversed with them for hours, an armed robbery took place across the street. Before, I would have had a panic attack. For a reason I still to this day am unaware of, I was more calm than most days. It was within that moment I knew this was my calling.

A career in a world that was miles outside my comfort zone sounded like suicide and misery to my brain but my heart was full. Somewhere along the way when my heart and my comfort zone took separate paths, my heart became the leader. My heart overpowered my head. It told me to go. It told me to be the teacher that these kids only heard about but never experienced. It told me to go make a difference.

This community was not somewhere I would want to grow up in, but it is a community I want to grow old in.

[At the top is a link to the spoken word I wrote about my understanding of what an inner city student feels about school. It’s this understanding that has stirred a passion for change in the education system.]

I Feel Called to a Career in Education, but I am Scared.

 

I’m called to a career where I won’t have a voice or a say in any decision or choice.

Teachers are guiding and forming the future, yet their salary is much less than someone stitching a suture.

I’m scared because in order to teach, I have to earn a degree. I will then drown in debt as deep as the sea.

My salary will barely allow me to pay off my debt. The debt that grows at the rate of a jet.

Don’t forget teachers have no say, even though they are the ones that interact with the students everyday.

No one will listen that there are too many standardized tests that cause too many young children to have anxiety fill their chest.

It’s no secret that there is too much pressure and depression is increasing, yet we choose to ignore and do nothing to make the rates start decreasing.

There are several issues within the realm of education followed by higher authority making bull crap justification.

The upper officials think cramming 40 students in a classroom is okay, but what about the kid that sits in the back of the class that goes unnoticed everyday?

With too many kids, the teacher can’t give every kid attention which leads to those kids getting frustrated, landing themselves in detention.

Or how about the fact that creativity is shamed while memorization is proclaimed.

Due to insufficient funds, art and music departments are getting cut. This leaves the kids who used art and music as an outlet in a rut.

We are teaching kids in a climate where multiple choice is the dominant, yet real life reflects quite the opposite.

Listen to my voice, Life is not multiple choice.

Education is supposed to be filled with color; it’s not black and white, yet we continue to act as if the system in place is right.

Somewhere along the line education formed into a business and as a student I’ve seen it firsthand as a witness.

The upper officials have no qualifications so maybe that’s why they have terrible justifications.

When I think of the world of education, I think of the word unfair. I look at the call of education I have almost as a dare.

Even though the education system resembles that of a slum, I’m shouting to the education world, “LOOK OUT! HERE I COME!”