I told my BFF Chris this after church yesterday: "I am trying to let go and let God."
She smiled and gave me a hug. "But it's hard when Linda's been in charge of the world for so long."
My BFF knows what she's talking about. It's why she's my BFF. She and my other close friends have walked the perilous road with me for a long time now. It's not that I chose to be in charge of the world. I sort of fell heir to it. Here's the brief history.
I'd dreamed of being a teacher since I was four years old, but a serious eye disease caused me to step out of college before I graduated. I worked as a librarian for ten years, worked on my BA for elementary education, and found a job as a teacher at The Christian Academy in 1995. The pay was terrible, but I loved the job, my colleagues, and having my own classroom. Unfortunately, my husband began to have mental issues at the time and my work days were sometimes punctuated by phone calls from the nurse at Ron's plant. In 1999, a severe episode landed Ron in Friends' Hospital (for Those Deprived of their Reason) for eight weeks. Afraid that he would not be able to work again and with three kids at home needing a college education and shoes, I resigned TCA and took a job at Westtown Quaker School. The salary was almost three times that of TCA. I'd wrestled with the decision for most of the summer, finally convinced by our then-minister Lou that my duty was to provide for my family.
As a school, Westtown was lovely, a 700 rolling acre of peace in Chester County and a 45-minute commute from home. To the best of my ability, I tried to embrace the Quaker ways while teaching sixth grade and working on my Master's in Reading. In 2000, Ron--who had returned to work part time--was critically injured in a car accident. I spent years studying Reading Theory in hospital rooms and even did my oral doctoral proposal from a nursing station. I had intended to stay at Westtown for five years; I stayed ten. While the income was sufficient, no one really needed me there. The students I worked with as a Reading Specialist had parents who could easily afford to hire tutors.
I left Westtown in 2009, a victim of the downed economy which had attacked even the bucolic campus of the Society of Friends. Try as I might, I could find no full time job and since Westtown--as a "religious" institution-- had not paid into Unemployment, I could collect no benefits. Ever one to pull up my bootstraps, I took on part time assignments at three colleges, teaching as many as nine classes a semester while I finished my EdD and took care of Ron and the kids. Eventually I dropped the other schools and continued to work part time for Springfield College. I was promised--at least verbally--a full time position when I finished my doctorate.
In 2011, my EdD degree newly attained, I found a position with Catapult Learning as an Instructional Coach. For two years I drove into Philadelphia every day, working with teachers at six different schools and developing at least twenty workshops on learning theories. The funding for that contract ended in 2013 and while I was able to get UC benefits, I opted to take the first job that came along. The promised full time college position failed to materialize.
I worked at Alliance for Progress Charter School on Cecil B Moore Ave in Philadelphia for two years as their Reading Interventionist, driving over the Girard Point Bridge every day in rain and snow and dark of night, regardless of my worsening vision. I loved the job; I hated the job. It depended on what day of the week it was and what challenging class I had. During the second year, though, I really felt needed and successful with the reading program I initiated.
But, alas, once again the economy did me in and the Board could not afford to renew my contract for a third year. I spent the summer of 2015 worrying. Ron had another long hospital stay--this time at Eagleville--and Allen, my youngest son, had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. A friend of mine who still worked for Catapult let me know there was a job there as a Title Reading Specialist. With no other offers in August, I took the position, this time driving up I-95 to Academy Road, a commute of 60-75 minutes each way.
As always, I was effective at the school. I adapted. I always do. The kids loved me. The teachers loved me. But my vision kept on getting worse, and in May I requested that I be placed at a closer school for the 2016-2017 year. I had a great summer--the best in years--confident that I would at least cut my commute in half. I also found out that the cornea in my right eye was severely damaged and would probably need a transplant.
At the end of August, I was told my school would be Hunting Park Christian off of Roosevelt Blvd, easily more than an hour down the dreaded Schuylkill Expressway. I tried to find a way to make it work, even considering public transportation, but the reality of the situation was that my vision is really too distorted for long distance driving. So, regrettably, I turned down the offer. Ron and I talked about my staying on unemployment for a while and resting my eyes, continuing only to teach my college classes.
Last week I got a phone call from a charter school in Chester and I will probably get an offer to teach. I am trying--really, I am--to let God make this decision. I do not want to go only because it is a job close to home, but because that might be where God needs me. But I also have a terrible habit of "battling with my mind", letting my calculator make decisions based solely on economics. I have been reading Joyce Meyer's Battlefield of the Mind and identifying where I allow my own mind to overtake God's spirit. Whether I go to this school, or another, or stay out of work for a while, need to be God's choice.
But I know my mind's tendency to ruminate, not trust. I have, as Chris observed, been in charge of the world a very long time.
Please pray that I can let go!