Monday, June 25, 2012

A New Chapter

Am I crazy? I muttered to myself again as I ran my hands through my hair and looked at the map on the computer screen.  Arizona?  Show Low?  Where did this come from?  

I had been looking for a job for the last few months.  Teaching jobs aren't exactly easy to come by in the best of times, especially not early in the summer.  But with extensive area budget cuts and the job markets flooded with experienced (and desperate) teachers, I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.  I had done everything I could.  I applied at three different districts, done several screening interviews, and personally dropped off more than 20 application packets at schools.  Nothing had clicked. 

I felt like I was banging in vain on the doors, hoping one might open.  Playing the waiting game, hoping the waiting didn't go on all summer.  My prayer became:  God, I'll knock on all the doors I can.  I trust you to open a door in your timing. 

(Sometimes I wish it were that simple, but I suppose that would not foster true faith)
And then, it came out of the sun.  Something completely unexpected.  A school in Arizona had several open positions.  Teaching in Arizona had never even crossed my radar.  My girlfriend's family live in Arizona, so I had visited the town.  I had visited the school.  I may have even met the principal.  I had even joked with my girlfriend that I should go teach there.  But seriously considered it for more than half a second?  No way!  My girlfriend is finishing her senior year of nursing school in Indiana and moving across the continent didn't even cross my mind.

I laughed when I first heard about the opening and dismissed the thought.  But it kept coming back.   The more I thought about it, the more the knot in my stomach began to loose. 

  • It is a small school, one with a very small student to teacher ratio.  I've learned a lot about teaching here at Bethel, but I still have a long ways to go.  This would be a great way to learn how to teach without the stress of a 24 student class. 
  • This school would provide an excellent, positive environment to grow as a teacher.  There are several other experienced teachers and I know I would be able to ask as many questions as I need to.  Every Friday is a "day of collaboration."  Although three days weekends are a plus, I am looking forward to days to work alongside the other teachers in the building.
  • It's a huge step, but it's not so far away from what I thought I'd be doing when I graduated.  I never planned on staying permanently in Indiana.  I've always wanted to learn how to be a good teacher and then go overseas.  Recently, my thoughts and prayers have been turning more and more towards Arizona.  I just wasn't expecting a door to open this soon. 
  • Both the first year of teaching and the final year of nursing school are very intense and time consuming.  Although the time apart will be tough, this may be to our benefit as it will give us the time and space we need to focus on what God has put in both of our paths.  

However you slice it or dice it, it's tough.  Leaving friends and my second family here in Indiana is hard.  A year apart from my girlfriend isn't high on my list of favorite things.  But the more that both of us have prayed about it, the more convinced we are that it would be good. 

So to shorten the story, I applied for the job.  I figured it was a long shot.  Who hires a green teacher from across the United States when they know next to nothing about him.   On top of that, I didn't even have an Arizona teaching license.  But I filled in an application and prayed that God would open or close the door.  

Several days later, I got a call from the principal in Arizona.   He said he wanted to schedule an interview.  In shock, I agreed to an interview a few days later.  Now I've really got to decide, I thought as I hung up the phone. Do I really want to go to Arizona?

In a bizarre series of events, I randomly got called in for an interview a few days later at a local middle school.  It was the first real interview I had landed for a local job.  And it fell on the same day as my phone interview for the job in Arizona.   I went in and did the interview at the local school, leaving feeling really good about how it had gone.  Then, later that day, as I was doing my interview with Arizona, I received a voice mail thanking me for coming in for the local interview, congratulating me on a wonderful interview, and informing me that they had offered the job to someone else.  

It felt as if the doors to a job in Indiana were closing and stubbornly staying shut.  The interview with Arizona, on the other hand, went wonderful and resulted in another phone interview with the entire school board.   (Sidenote: If you think it is intimidating to do an interview with eight people, HA!  Do one with eight people you cannot see or hear but you know are listening very intently to every word you say...)  

In the end, I was offered a third grade position.  Just like that.  An open door.   Something I never would have considered.  It seems to be how God works in my life a lot of the times.  I'm praying about doors A, B, or C...and then trapdoor H opens beneath me. 

The more I look into the job, the more excited I get.  I believe more strongly each day that this is the next step in my life.  Easy? No, not at all.  But I am confident that it will be good.  I am sure that I am in God's will and the next year will be one of growth and drawing close to Him. 

It'll be an adventure!  That's for sure. Closing this chapter will be tough. I've built a lot of relationships here in Indiana and I feel like I'm leaving part of my heart in this sorry state.  But that's how leaving always is.  I am comforted and encouraged by the fact that my master walks before me, hemming me in behind and before (Psalm 139).  

So here's to adventure and the next chapter!  Hurrah!  

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