When I taught high school English, I was adamant about my students using appropriate transitions in their writing. The transitions didn’t need to be spectacular, but even a word or phrase (“However” was one of my favorites) would be enough to signal to the reader that there was a change coming, a link was being formed. I mean, have you ever read an article or book or story without any transitions? Nope. Me neither. Authors ALWAYS need transitions to continue the fluidity of a piece and to ensure that words flow and move and are active.
Much like writing, life is filled with transitions. In recovery, there are transitions. For example, I started off on my road to recovery trying to follow a strict meal plans given to me by past dietitians. When I realized that my eating disordered mind was getting too fixated on times and calories and quantities, then I transitioned to eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. After spending a few weeks doing that, my body started transitioning to wanting different kinds of foods–fruits and veggies and rice and salmon. And soon thereafter, I transitioned to wanting to eat so I could feel the best I possibly could at work, with my family and friends, and on the weightlifting platform.
I was recently listening to a sermon from Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church, and it was all about transitions. The English grammar nerd in me shouted, “YES!!!!” when I saw that the title of his talk related to this grammatical topic. And then I started listening to this captivating speaker, and I realized that change and transition (two concepts I didn’t think much about) are actually two very different and distinct parts of life. Furtick emphasized how change is external, that a man being healed of sores or a handicapped is physically changed. But the transition and transformation of a person is internal and is something that needs to be constantly worked upon.
I am undergoing great transitions as we speak. I have always loved the Lord since coming to know Jesus as Savior as a senior in high school, but recently, God has been showing me that my love for Him is not always demonstrated in my actions…and if that is the case, no matter how many times I day I deliver the Lord’s Prayer or how many verses I memorize, will those actions alone TRULY illustrate how I have undergone a spiritual and emotional transformation? If the love of God was in me, why would I opt to complain about others that annoy me or want to spend more time zoning out looking at Instagram versus playing cars with my son? Granted, I am human and the flesh will sometimes override what the Holy Spirit is telling me, but to KNOW that I am actively CHOOSING to participate in the actions that are NOT honoring to God and then NOT doing anything to change that…well…it’s safe to say, I would not really be transformed.
Towards the end of 2020 I saw this false sense of transformation in myself, and I resolved to DO SOMETHING about it. First and foremost, I knew that I needed to spend more time with Jesus. I wanted my actions to also reflect the evolution in my spirit, the transformation of my inner being, so I stopped teaching yoga so our family could attend church. I read passages in the Bible and meditated on what God was wanting me to do with those words rather than scroll through IG. I listened to great pastoral teachings in the car versus my normal weightlifting podcasts. I stopped gossiping and looking down on others and instead refused to even let those negative thoughts enter my mind. I thoughtfully prayed for my father daily instead of repeating the same words of healing for him that I’d normally utter in the morning.
And slowly, I could feel my spirit transforming. I didn’t feel the weight of anxiety and irritation I normally did. I woke up WANTING to get into His word and read and listen and read and pray and listen and pray. I prayer walked around campus and sang worship songs in the bathroom.
While all of this was happening, Jesus began to reveal more of Himself to me, and the biggest revelation God spoke was that He had me in a certain position for this season for a reason: I needed to be free from the constraints and stress and distraction of a full-time English teaching job in order to be fully present for Him. I needed time to return to my Maker and Creator. Working in a position that didn’t require me to grade assignments on my time off or attend late weekly meetings would free me up to SEEK HIM.
And you know what? When I started doing so, when I began honoring Jesus, He then began transforming my heart.
At the start of this school year, I was looking forward to not having the job responsibilities I once did. I knew that I was mentally, physically and spiritually burned out, but felt helpless to do much about it. Why? Because I was indebted to serving the students I was teaching. I would have felt inadequate if I wasn’t giving my all to my job–but ironically, if I was giving my all to my classes, then I wasn’t able to give my all to Jesus. So I took up a new and less demanding classroom role at another school. And it was pretty darn glorious. I didn’t have emails and lessons and grading and the like. I got to school, did my duties, and left with nothing more than my lunch bag and a smile. But soon, I started missing having my own class. I missed teaching coordinating conjunctions and talking about “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
I missed teaching English.
I brought my thoughts to God and cried and asked and searched Him. I fell back to scriptures that talked about the peace of Him transforming my mind and heart, and how when I seek, I shall fine, and when I knock, the door will be opened. I asked for Him to direct my spirit, and that I knew that when I was walking down that straight and narrow road, He would also begin to open up more doors as they appear.
As I write this, it will be the day after I just accepted an offer to teach eighth grade English at the same wonderful school I am currently at. The position starts Monday, just two days away. Am I anxious about beginning so soon? Is there doubt that I can fulfill the job the way I would like? Do I worry about judgment and negativity? Initially, yes, there was so fear. But then Jesus showed me that His timing is greater than anything, that I have control over my thoughts, and that placing me in this teaching role is a part of His design…and He never makes mistakes.
And then I begin realizing that if I just let the love of Jesus shine through me in the classroom and on campus, if I continue to seek Him daily, if I praise and worship Him and give Him glory for all things, then what do I really have to worry about? Living one day in His presence is glorious and wonderful, and if I can share that with students, then I can rest assured that the students I will be educating are attaining wisdom and grace and growth and love.
What does this mean for the blog? It means I probably will not be spending as much time writing because I will be busy with this transition. My hope is that I will be able to spend at least once a month sharing more about how God is continuing to direct me in this season. So for now, thank you for reading. Thank you for a being a part of this journey. Thank you for allowing me to be a conduit of what the Holy Spirit is doing…and I hope you have been blessed.