Have you ever had a dream inside that just wouldn’t go away? That was me, with an idea that I just couldn’t ignore any longer – to go back to school and become a teacher! It was intimidating think of going back to college in my thirties and I had some big insecurities. It may sound silly, but I had to find courage to even say the dream out loud. Although I lacked confidence, I followed the dream and hoped to find my true value.
After five years of classes and taking care of my little family, I graduated from FSU. I found confidence in doing well in school and then found a love for teaching in 2nd Grade and Kindergarten. I felt acceptance as I was nominated as Teacher of the Year in 2012. In fact, my years of teaching make up some of my happiest memories. Not only did I find fulfillment in relationships with my students and joy in helping them grow, but I also found a self-assurance I’d not known. I came to see God had made me with unique gifts and talents, and it felt good to be using them.
Being a teacher was such a big part of how I identified myself. It made up a huge part of my world and daily life. I was consumed with doing my best and giving all to my craft. My worth was strengthened in the idea that I was valuable because of what I did – I was a teacher. Eventually, though, it wasn’t enough to sustain me.
During my last year of teaching I began to feel ready for change, but struggled to let go. I didn’t want to lose that part of myself. I didn’t want to be without that name-tag of value. Who would I be without being teacher? I didn’t want to give up the confidence and independence that came with having a career. I worried about what people would think. What would I say when they asked what I’d be doing? I didn’t even know yet! I had so many doubts and there were many unknowns. Although I wasn’t sure what my life would look like outside of being a teacher, I became ready to let go of the familiar and reach for the new.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Embracing change required faith. It was a big turning point for me – to let go of the “name tag” and trust that God would show me who I was. This decision made a huge impact on my life. My step of faith led me through a door that ushered me into a deeper desire to truly follow Jesus. The “norm” became not enough. I began to long to truly know Jesus and used my free time to study the Word of God. I began to invite the Holy Spirit into my life, wanting to be led by His spirit, rather than my own agenda.
During this time, God began to show me that He wanted to deal with some things in my life. He showed me it was time to stop looking for approval from people and find it in Him alone. He wanted to teach me about how much He loved me. And I listened. I began to believe that my true value was not really found in what I did or how well I performed. I learned that I am accepted, because Jesus has made me acceptable.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would give you, according to the riches of His glory, power to be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ~Ephesians 3:14-19
As I’m learning how to be just me, I am finding strength in Him alone. My worth is not found in what I can do or how well I can do it. It’s not found in measuring up to what others think I should be. It’s about me looking for Him and finding Him. And as I am learning who He is, I am finding who I am.
Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. 13 You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:12-14 (GNT)
Let’s hold onto God’s promises and keep searching for more of Christ. Let’s be brave enough to let go of seeking man’s approval and find acceptance, freedom, and fulfillment in real relationship with Jesus Christ. Our true value is ultimately found within our quest for Him!
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~Philippians 1:6 (NLT)