My list of what I currently hate: transition, moving, goodbyes, and quitting. There are other events I could add to the list, including finding a giant spider in my shower, but this is what is topping out the list at the moment.
“Will you be available to teach for the 2015-16 school year?” My gut knew what decision I needed to make. My mind took a little longer to admit it. My heart was dragged along kicking and screaming. I would like to say I have an ability to persevere. Sometimes this quality manifests itself as hardheaded stubbornness.
I knew sending in my notice saying I would not be returning the following year to teach was my next step. I would finish out my contract and was not abandoning the school mid-year. I knew in my head it shouldn’t be so agonizingly painful, but my heart was refusing to cooperate.
Choosing to not return to teach for the following school year meant transition. I will soon be saying goodbyes, again. I will be moving. I will be starting a new job with new people and new expectations. By leaving I was opening up my heart to pain, again. Living cross-culturally during my high school years and then going back overseas after college, these are not new experiences for me. I am faithfully building another “RAFT” to add to my fleet. This was going to be painful, but not impossible.
As I sat on my bed sobbing, I was beyond the point of words. I couldn’t figure out why this transition was so much harder than any other. So, I picked up a pen and the following list came out.
Does Not Meet Expectations.
Couldn’t cut it.
Abandoning my students.
I had come wanting to stay at the school long-term. I love my students and I knew many of them would see my leaving as abandonment. It has been a rough couple of years at the school, but when I made this decision no one else was leaving. Only I couldn’t cut it. I couldn’t live up to the expectations put on me or the expectations I put on myself. I had failed. I was ashamed. More tears followed, but now they were healing tears. God is not a god of shame, but of infinite compassion. I could hear God’s gentle voice saying, “You are not quitting, you are following me. I will give you the courage to leave.”
I had to recognize I am not God. I am not the solution for the school or for my students. If God is calling me to move on, He will also provide someone to take my place. For me to stay would be to say I know better than Him. My heart was starting to follow more willingly. It no longer had anything to do with what I was leaving behind or what pain it would bring. The reason I am leaving has nothing to do with who I am and everything to do with who God is.
When I look at the words I had written as I sat on my bed in tears, my list doesn’t even make sense anymore. Quitter, failure, and disappointing do not describe my decision to follow God’s plan for me. Leaving is not easy. My change in perspective has not kept me from hurtful words or actions, but daily God is giving me courage. He is giving me the courage not just to leave but to leave well. The courage to leave something good because He has something even better, Himself. Whether staying or leaving, He is the one I must choose.
He is giving me the courage to leave, and by doing so He has given me the courage to stay. By leaving, I am learning how to abide in Him and choose Him above all else.
When you think about leaving, what words come to your mind?