When I agreed to teach a public speaking class this fall, I did it with a bit of resignation.
I had a bit of a bad attitude about it, if I was honest. I lamented the fact that I was going back to teaching, the amount of time I knew that I was going to have to spend on prep time, the early wake-up call for a 7:30 am class, and whatever else that popped into my mind. I just didn’t want to do it.
What I think I was ignoring was coming to terms with the period of time in my life when I decided to take a break from teaching after Fiona was born. It was a struggle. I knew that I should quit, but I didn’t want to quit, even though it was shredding me up physically and emotionally. I cried a ridiculous amount about my decision, and I am certain that everyone around me was sick of hearing about it, especially me.
It was the right decision, and it gave me the space to do other things. I started working part time for Ben. I helped launch MCG. I volunteered. I started to lead a Bible study group. I convinced myself that my teaching “break” was permanent. But then somehow, one thing led to another, and I agreed to teach again this fall, which takes me back to my bad attitude, which was in serious need of adjustment.
About a month ago, I found myself complaining to some friends of mine, and one of them told me that she had been praying for her soon-to-be freshman son’s professors.
Then she said, “Maybe you should be looking and praying that God will show you the reason why you are teaching this semester.”
So, ever since then, I have been thinking and praying about that very thing – maybe there is something my students need to hear from me, and even more likely, maybe there is something I need to learn. I was still a little grumpy as I tried to plow through a new textbook, dig through my notes from 2008, and deal with some unanticipated jitters.
Fast forward to the first day of class. It was okay. Yeah, I was a little rusty. Plus, that bleary-eyed 7:30 am crowd is tough…none of my sorry attempts at jokes seemed to work. But as I sat there and listened to their first impromptu speeches, where I asked them to talk about a “defining moment” in their lives, I realized that I was in one…right now.
A moment where obedience took precedence over my preferences. A moment where I allowed myself to look beyond the now to the bigger picture. A moment where it wasn’t about me anymore, but was about the people around me, the students whose path had collided with mine for 14 short weeks. It wasn’t going to be easy or simple, and I’m certain it will be more than a little frustrating, but it is my path, and I will be keeping my eyes open for the reasons I am on it.