In August 2014, I had no idea the power of a simple Google search. All I knew was that I didn’t want to spend another summer working a desk job, so I began hunting for other options. I typed “Christian camp photographer” into the search bar, and the rest is history…
These are just a few of the many false identities that we are urged to embrace.
Miss Shoaf, Will we use the Chromebooks in Science today?
Miss Shoaf, How many chapters of Holes will we read this afternoon?
Miss Shoaf, When will you grade our tests?
Miss Shoaf, Who gets to be the Math Magician today?
Miss Shoaf, Can I solve number 3 on the board?
Miss Shoaf, Will we have a substitute in P.E. next week?
My answer to all of these questions is the same: we will have to wait and see.
The constant barrage of questions I get as a student teacher can be annoying if not overwhelming. Yet, I sit on the floor of my dorm room tonight, and I exhale my relentless questions to God.
- Will I pass student teaching?
- What will I do after I graduate?
- Should I pursue Option X?
- Why am I even a student teacher in the first place?
- What is the purpose of all of this?
Just Wait and See
Suddenly, those words that I say to my students without a second thought are the worst words in the world.
WAIT and SEE
I don’t want to wait. I want to know now! Yet, I must trust that God has my best interest in mind, just as I seek the good of my students. As hard as it is, I know that God wants me to learn and grow. He knows that I don’t need to know yet.
And so I wait. Very impatiently.
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds. – Psalm 77:11-12
I would be lying if I told you that student teaching is easy. On the days that I make students cry, on the days that I forget to give full instructions, on the days that my lessons fail, I am convinced that I should just switch majors.
If I had a dollar for every time that I wanted to quit…
Hanging above the desk in my dorm room is a quote from Nicki Koziarz:
Sometimes you just need to look back and remember the places God has brought you through.
Surrounding the quote are dozens of pictures. There are pictures from Africa, from when I wanted to completely give up on ever making a decent video. There are pictures taken only days prior to my overnight stay in the DFW airport. There are pictures from all 4 years of college when I was anxious for a multitude of reasons.
And the Lord brought me through all of it. So every time that the Enemy says that I am flailing and aimless, I must look back and see what the LORD has brought me through. If He brought me through those struggles, he will bring me through this one, too.
I think in pictures, not words.
You say “banana.” I think:
You say “lighthouse.” I think:
You say “week.” I think:
You say “God.” I think…well, here is where it gets confusing.
Sometimes, I think:
Other times, I think:
But the other morning, I thought:
To be honest, that morning God seemed so far away. I’m on earth with sin and struggles; He is in Heaven with perfection and worship. It seems like an endless sky separates me from Him.
When I feel far from God, I tend to make regulations that I must follow–cages that I must climb in order to reach God.
But Colossians 1:20-23 says:
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
When I reflect on my self-imposed rules, I realize that this false asceticism is worthless. The rules may improve peoples’ opinions of me–she is so kind, so self-disciplined, so good–but no law of my own can move God closer to me.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9
God isn’t behind a fence that I need to climb or through a jungle that I must chop away. He is ever-present and ready to hear from his children.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. – Psalm 139:7-8
So when you say “God,” I cannot picture anything. He is not just a righteous Judge, or just a good Father, or just a gracious Savior. He cannot be defined by my finite imagination. He is above all, before all, and beyond all that we can picture.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16-17
Today at 9:30 am, I will attend my last class at the undergraduate level. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I will take final exams, and next semester I will be a student teacher in a fifth grade class. Lord willing, I will graduate in less than five months.
Looking back, I realize that some of the emotionally challenging days of college could have been avoided.
10 things I wish I could tell my freshman self
- God is God. You are not. Trust His plan, and don’t try to fix it.
- Be humble. Be a servant. Be like Christ.
- Treat your body like God’s temple. Worship in it, but don’t worship it.
- The accolades really don’t matter, so don’t get too engrossed in the competition. Enjoy the challenge for how it is building you individually.
- To have friends, you must show yourself friendly.
- Enjoy the moment because it is all you have.
- Quit worrying about money. God will supply your needs.
- Wear your polka-dot rain boots. Wear your green shorts. Wear your flowy skirts. Don’t be embarrassed by your quirky style. When you finally get brave enough to wear those clothes in your junior year, you will get a ton of compliments.
- Get involved in school events and at church. You want people to know who you are.
- Perfection is unattainable. Quit trying so hard.
I would never claim that college is easy, but the past 3.5 years have been some of the most rewarding years of my life. As I learned the ten truths that I listed above, I have grown emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. I have seen God’s provision to pay for college and missions trips. I have seen God’s sovereignty to orchestrate convenient class schedules and amazing summer jobs. God showed His grace by sustaining me through difficult classes and long nights.
Truthfully, student teaching terrifies me, but I must “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.”
- God will continue to provide for me.
- God will continue to orchestrate His plan.
- God will continue to graciously sustain me.
Meanwhile, I will believe the ten statements that I want to tell my freshman self.
I have never heard God as plainly as Jonah did in Jonah 1:2, but if I did, the conversation would probably go like this:
God: Kat, before you were born, I made an amazing plan for you. I want you to _____(fill in the blank)____.
Kat: Yeah, I know You are sovereign and all that, but what You want me to do sounds hard and dangerous. Can’t I just stay here?
God: It will be hard, but it will also sanctify you. In the end, this plan is for your good. Now go!
Kat: Um…sure…I’ll get right on that…
Instead of completing whatever task God had asked me to do, I make my own plans and fulfill my own desires. A few months later, we would have this conversation.
Kat: Hey, God! I’m, uh, feeling a little stuck here. I can’t seem to get out of this mess. Can You throw Your daughter a line?
God: I watched you the whole time you were making that mess. Why didn’t you just do what I told you to?
Kat: I already told You! The task that you had for me was hard. Swimming into deep water seemed much easier. But now I realize that I was wrong! I am drowning, but if you pull me out, I will go work on the job you planned for me.
God, in His grace and mercy would save me and give me a second chance to obey Him. Full of piety, I would do what He told me to do and see the results He planned.
Kat: So, uh, God? It’s Kat here. Did you happen to see what Marci did last week? You really should punish her for that.
God: Yes, I saw her mistake. She slipped, stumbled, and fell. But the next day, she cried out for forgiveness, and I pulled her to her feet, just like I pulled you from the pit.
Kat: Ugh! Don’t You see, God? THIS is why I didn’t want to obey You at first. I knew that You are gracious and merciful. I knew that if I let You use me, You would expect me to be gracious and merciful too.
God: What good is your self-pity doing? Should I not care for Marci who has a soul with an eternal destiny?
You see, my conversation with God would be very similar to Jonah’s conversation with God. Like Jonah, I think that my own plan is better than God’s sovereign plan, and I want to be the judge of who deserves forgiveness.
Jonah’s story shows us that we will always fail when we go against God’s sovereign plan.
How will you respond when God calls you to do something hard?