girl, redeemed

{Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story. Psalm 107:2}
My story Redemption Room 223 Teaching

girl, redeemed in room 223: how God redeemed my classroom

{girl, redeemed in Room 223}

I began my career as a high school English teacher a little later in life than many teachers. After being a stay-at-home mom (which I loved!), I finally went back to school at age 35 and finished my English degree.  I got a job as a teaching assistant at an alternative school for three and a half years before entering a Master’s Degree program where I would teach while getting my teaching certificate and a master’s degree in teaching. As required by the program, I got a job at a “regular” high school as an English teacher. It was five minutes from my house in a district that I loved.

I had finally arrived. Except that teaching was not at all what I thought it was going to be.  It was more. More students. More papers to grade. More decisions to make. More lessons to plan. More meetings. More details swirling in my head. More exhaustion. More stress. More anxiety. More dreading every Monday and living for Friday. More wondering if I was going to make it another year.

I’m not sure I smiled for the first few years. Not because I didn’t like some of what I was doing, but because I could barely put one foot in front of the other. In fact, I DID like a lot of my students. I DID like reading literature with my students. I DID like the feeling that I had accomplished the goal of becoming a teacher. But I would count the days till a break. I would take sick days just to catch my breath. My arms and legs ached from the stress. I complained to my husband all the time about how overwhelmed I felt.

I felt alone. I had no friends at school. Being a high school teacher can be very isolating. I could go weeks without even seeing the teacher next door to me. There was very little collaboration between teachers when I began teaching, and it was clear that I was pretty much on my own. I remember asking a few desperate questions of a fellow teacher, but, honestly, I didn’t even know how to ask for help. And I didn’t want my colleagues to think I didn’t know what I was doing.  (p.s. I didn’t know what I was doing!)

I taught three different courses with very few resources. One of those courses had no curriculum, and I designed it as I went. And even though I knew how to read and write, I really did not know how to teach students to read and write.

 

On top of all that, I had neglected my relationship with Jesus. I was avoiding him because of some serious sin in my life. I had no peace and I had no joy. And I craved them more than anything. I just knew I could make it through each day if I only had God’s peace and joy.

I prayed for peace. I begged for joy. But I did not open my Bible. I just couldn’t do it because I knew it would be too convicting. I wanted the blessings of a right relationship with God while still harboring sin. But the Holy Spirit would not let me go. He continued to draw me in. He continued to remind me that peace and joy come from God alone. Over the first few miserable years of teaching, all I could think about was my longing for peace and joy. But it always seemed to be out of arms’ reach.

 

After four excruciating years of teaching, God got my attention (that is a story for another time). I surrendered my life back to Him, no matter the cost. And guess what — I began to feel his peace and joy again. God gave me a thirst for the Bible that I had not had in years. Every morning as I opened my Bible, it came alive to me as never before. It brought life to my dry bones.

As I devoured God’s word and prayed like my life depended on it, my heart and soul began to change. I noticed that my short drive to school did not bring on the aching anxiety that had always been there. My mouth did not burn with stress as I walked toward my classroom. I did not feel tense as I unlocked my classroom door. Even though teaching did not become easy, I felt God’s peace and joy. It was what I had longed for. It was what I needed to persevere in this profession. It was what I needed to live.

From that time forward, I started to learn about God’s redemption in my personal life and in my teaching life. I learned that redemption goes beyond that glorious day when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. That day, July 4, 1976, changed my life in this world and the next, but God did not stop there. He continues to redeem the hard places in my life, making something beautiful out of something difficult, annoying, challenging, or painful (whether self-inflicted or not).

The fact is, teaching is difficult AND painful. There is no way to avoid the hours of grading, the student discipline and confrontation, the meetings, the planning. But God started to change my attitude and outlook. He restructured the way I taught, my approach to the myriad duties that come along with the territory, and my attitude toward difficult students. He began redeeming the hard places in my teaching. I was no longer hopeless. (And God even brought me friends…yet another story for later!)

I would love to have you journey along side of me as I share how God redeemed my life and my classroom. He can do the same for you!

Psalm 66:16

Come and hear, all you who fear God,

And I will tell what he has done for my soul.

 

2 Comment

  1. Wow, I can identify totally. I did not know that you had become an English teacher. I knew that I enjoyed reading your posts. So proud of you!

    1. Miss Moody, you were one of my favorite teachers! I’m a teacher today because of the influence of my teachers at PCS. 🙂

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