If I had been able to afford Houghton College, I would have never attended Cornerstone College, eight hours from my family.
If I had lost the election for student body secretary, I would have never gotten to know Ben, my future husband.
If I had skipped the trip to the job fair in Lansing, I would have never gotten an interview at Old Kent Bank.
If my boss had not taken a chance on me as an untested corporate trainer, I would have never found out how much I enjoy teaching.
If I had not taken the severance package from Old Kent, I would have never finished my masters degree so quickly.
If I had lost contact with my Cornerstone professors, I would have never known about an adjunct position when I wanted to work part-time.
If I had not taken a few years off from adjunct teaching, I would have never worked at Ben’s firm and started Mom Colored Glasses.
If I had not decided to teach again last fall, I would have never known about the faculty opening in the business department.
If I had lost my nerve to apply, I would have never gotten the job at Cornerstone.
I look at these moments, and the difficult stands out just as much as the good. I remember the loneliness of being far from home, the disquieting feeling of being laid off, the extra school loan payment every month, the last minute calls to teach a course, the pain of leaving a job I loved, the fear of the unknown, the restlessness of the “in-between”, the wait for a phone call…they all ring in my ears in a chaotic disharmony.
But then, somehow, the notes start to sort themselves out, and a melody emerges, strong and true. It’s my melody, one that sings of learning to trust God when things seem bleak and of finding the sweet spot where my experience and gifts collide. I love my melody, both the stanzas that trip all over themselves with excitement, and the rumbling passages that repeat over and over with frustration and fatigue. It is in the contrast that makes life interesting. It is in the contrast that we find out who we truly are.
This next movement? I’m not sure what it is going to sound like, except it is going to be very different. I haven’t worked full time in nine years, and I have never worked as a full time professor before. Add to that the prospect of starting my doctorate in the next year, and it is very clear to me that the beat of our family life is going to change in very real ways. I’m thrilled…and terrified at the same time. Change is never easy, and I just hope that I have dug out enough of the dirt beneath my feet to stay grounded in what my family needs and that I can keep trusting God to take care of the long view…the completed symphony…while I focus on the next stanza.