Purpose, Passion, and Paycheck…

Last year I posted on Facebook that I was excited for the day when my purpose, passion, and paycheck (income) would align. For years I had been earning a paycheck but never really felt fulfilled or completely satisfied. However, in May 2017 when I lost my job, I could feel a shift happening as I finally found my passion…and about seven months later, I also found my purpose.

Passion…

As I learned during my period of unemployment, I absolutely love working with people. I love being able to help others and serve in my community; I literally get joy from putting a smile on someone else’s face. I soon realized that the reason why my happiness faded so quickly at past employers is because I did not work directly with people; when not working with people, I soon began to resent my job.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a Master’s of Public Administration- both of my degrees spell OFFICE WORK. Both of my degrees say that I should not be working directly with the community that I serve. Both of my degrees say that I should be working a 9-5 and holed up in some swanky office. But that is not what my heart says. My heart wants and NEEDS to be working directly with people, engaging with them daily and helping to make a difference in their lives. I cannot help it- my heart needs that type of work in order to survive.

Purpose…

After spending five months in complete unemployment, the one and only job opportunity that I received was to become a substitute teacher for my county’s public school system. Although I was very nervous, I took the opportunity because I really wanted to work on my ability to speak in front of a room. I knew God was planning some major things in my future and I wanted to be able to learn how to speak well. So I jumped at opportunity to help shape the county’s young people.

After only a few days on the job, I was given the opportunity to become a Long-term sub at a middle school, in a specific Special Education program. I was going to be the teacher and I was going to be responsible for making sure that the children’s educational, emotional, and behavioral needs were met. I was nervous, but I sought God frequently throughout the day and He provided all that I needed. At the end of month three (January 2018), my last month with this class, the Lord revealed my purpose to me: He has called me to teach, lead, and inspire. Oddly enough, these are the exact same words that He had given in December, as I created my 2018 vision board. No, God was not necessarily telling me that I would become a teacher in the school system, but He was telling me that He had called me to teach others through various methods and mediums. Specifically, God was giving me the avenue by which He wanted me to work in my passion- He wanted me mentor and minister to others… and He was explicitly telling me to begin with youth. He confirmed this message through the inspiration of the ministry Young Butterflies and through my work with other existing youth groups.

Paycheck…

Just as I knew He would, God aligned it so that my purpose, passion, and paycheck would divinely intersect at the wonderful (yet surprising) point of working for the school system. Every day I am able to work with children and prepare them for their futures. During school hours, I am their teacher- the person tasked with imparting knowledge into their open minds. After school hours, I am a mentor to young girls or I am volunteering in the community. The school schedule is flexible enough that I am able to always work within my God-given purpose, serve in my passion, and still earn a paycheck. At its surface, I am extremely blessed and beyond grateful however, life just got real today…

Reality…

In the wake of last Wednesday’s school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the middle school where I am currently working decided to have a Lock-down Drill and brief information session on lock-downs and how to deal with an Active Assailant. Yesterday in the training, I thought I was fine but when it came time to have the drill, I hid in the closet with my students and cried.

As I stood in the dark closet with my students, I reflected on the events of last week. The drill seemed to have been about 17 minutes in length and with passing minute, I thought about another person who did not live to see last Thursday evening. My mind reflected on how I was hiding in the closet as a drill, yet last week, children and teachers hid in closets to save their lives. My mind wondered how many substitute teachers were in the building that day when the gunfire began. My mind wondered and reflected…while my eyes released tears.

Reflection…

I do not know what I was expecting when I had asked God to let those three areas align for me, but I definitely was not expecting the possibility of this level of reality. As we practiced hiding in that closet, I realized the jarring truth: I am completely responsible for the lives of others. In my passion and purpose, I work to help others heal, both spiritually and emotionally. I am responsible for them because I pray for them and bring their concerns to the Lord. As a Christian, this is just a portion of what I am called to do. In my paycheck (my job), I am responsible for ensuring that children receive a fair and equitable education, I am responsible for their safety, and I am responsible for them as a whole.

Pause, is this what I really signed up for, Lord?

Yes, that was something else that I thought while in the closet…and the Lord answered quickly: YES. He gently told me that if I want to teach, lead, and inspire the lives of others, I have to be cognizant of the fact that I am in many ways, a protector/guardian of their lives. When we teach others, we teach their whole being and we impact every facet of their lives. God needed me to know that He is requiring more of me and that I need to be truly prepared to save the lives of others.

Be blessed.

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