Monday, September 16, 2013

Every mother is a working woman

My mother-in-law just gave me a bumper sticker that reads, "Every mother is a working woman." That's ringing true right now.

Today, a tutoring agency offered me a job. They charge students my free-lance rate, but I keep only $20/h. Yikes. Gotta remind myself that it's better than what my former teaching salary added up to when my annual salary was divided by number of hours actually worked: $13/h at that time. Maybe someday I'll be back in the classroom. Right now, the idea of lesson planning, grading, and sponsoring extra-curriculars seems like too much of a commitment.

But I really don't want the tutoring agency job. Working harder to free-lance and get teachers to recommend me seems a better way. But I'm taking the job for a little extra pay at times when specific language tutoring might not be requested.

And "if money was no object," I'd choose a different path for the next season. It seems that God keeps me, and Nick, moving on to something else every 5 years or so... and changing locations more frequently. We feel like nomads sometimes, as Nick has written about.

I believe that once someone becomes a Christ-follower and begins the process of discovering who she is as a unique child of God, the Holy Spirit shapes her to be more and more like her true self. Some call this Sanctification. All goals, desires and fulfillment are transformed through God's abundant love and to glorify God. What had been a decent goal seems puny compared with the weighty scope of how this goal could fit into God's great Plan of redemption for the world. What had been a self-serving desire gets flipped around, so that love and wholeness come to others through God working in me. And fulfillment cannot be satisfied by titles, salaries, accumulated wealth or possessions, or any relationship: only more God satisfies. My joy is to see more of God at work.

At this point, all my passions have been sifted through, discarded, and packed away. Or so it seems, in the process of moving. Questions like the following abound. Which passions pay some income now? Which passions are worth pursuing over 15 years or more, in a slow build? If I was/am really good at French and German, why not continue? Or is a parallel language career better than traditional K-12 or university teaching? What about the directions that volunteering seemed to be going? Where can God use me to help others encounter Jesus? What is worth pursing, that has an eternal impact not just pay for me?

Course books and teaching resource books that were kept through 4 moves in 8 years are now listed online and selling well enough. These were gems, ones that really were worth keeping (I'm a purger and usually borrow or resell used books). Now these books are going one by one. Volunteering that was possible before, isn't happening in this new context. It's happening in both my life and Nick's. No book of his is safe from being sold ;-)

At times it's been hard. It takes going over a box 3 times, each time letting go of more. I wonder, where is the part of me that earned distinction awards? Unlike my 22 year old self, I know now that a Masters Degree helps in a limited way if one doesn't intend to be a professor: credentials in some fields, salary scale climbing, and networking. At almost 30, I'm researching opportunities that build on experience, strengths, and passions while allowing me to live a life of wholeness as God made me, and a life with my family. You know, the French live for life, and work about 35h/wk to make living life possible during all the other hours of the day...

For those full-time moms in your life, would you ask good questions and listen well? The parts of teaching that I miss are mentors, continuing education and social workshop days, and really getting to know so many unique students. Progress could be measured from salary and years to improved students and outcomes. How does a parent measure a 'job well done'? A parent giving 110% is no guarantee that the child will make good choices. Recently, the single parenting standard that seems worthwhile is this:

  • To demonstrate a life completely given over to Jesus Christ, and to teach Christ-likeness

That single standard is what's given me new energy for diapers, meal prep and clean up, meeting more new families, and the changing whims of a toddler and preschooler. At dinner we all usually share highlights and low points from our day; that single standard has changed what I share and what I encourage from the kids.

So, maybe God has a plan with this tutor agency job that I cannot see yet; to reach certain struggling families and demonstrate Christ to them. Maybe God has more in store, and it took a move to clear my ears and eyes to see his workings better. And get to really know full-time moms and how they and their kids are growing in Christ-likeness. It's the weightiest standard.

Floating around the house right now: Don't Waste Your Life, John Piper.
If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not a book about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there: your dreams are part of your DNA and who God made you to be. As you pare possessions, I pray that you'll see God's hand more & more clearly. Miss you!!!