Just over 6 months ago, while sitting at my desk in a relatively respectable job as a hotel receptionist, I found myself thinking, "I just don't feel like I'm living up to my potential." I didn't have much to complain about - I had a decent boss, regular hours that worked around my schedule, I wore nice clothes to work and when the long nights got to be boring it was perfectly permissible for me to while away the evening on the internet. I told myself that it was a great job for someone like me who was trying to launch their own business and didn't need extra work stress. But as night after night wore on, the sense of "guilt" grew heavier and heavier. I began to casually browse the "want ads" for openings. That was when I found the advertisement for an assistant teaching position in a Head Start pre-school. Based on my experience volunteering with the children in my church, I knew it was a job I would be good at and enjoy and that would also come with better hours and benefits. I applied and was hired.
Fast forward to today...shortly after becoming a government employee, I learned I would have to earn something called a CDA by summer 2013 in order to keep my position in early childhood education. It would involve gathering 480 hours of work experience plus 120 continuing education credit hours, masses of paper work and a final test and interview before being awarded the nationally recognized credential. Pause for breath. So, OK. Wow. Suddenly I found myself going back to school AND working part time AND running a business, but...absolutely LOVING it!
Looking back at my life (nearly 31 years of it), I see a pattern of decisions I thought I was making for completely different reasons than what they turned out to be and which have also led to vastly different outcomes than I had envisioned. Yet, strangely enough, I have found happiness in the midst of painful times and been moved by the waters of change when I thought I was planted for good in a place I didn't care for. All evidence, I believe, of the love and faithfulness of God who cares about the smallest details of our lives.
To illustrate my point, I want to share the "autobiography" I wrote today in class as part of my CDA paperwork. I have to admit that the final message of it both surprised and thrilled me:
Hi, my name is Shalom Schultz and I am an artist. Growing up, I was always creating in some way, whether sewing barbie clothes, drawing pictures of my best friends in ball gowns or helping my mom paint and redecorate the living room. When I went to college, naturally I pursued an art degree and have since worked as a graphic designer as well as started my own art and stationary business. Soon after marriage, my husband and I purchased a lovely little yellow house, surrounded by trees and flowers, and lived a quiet, happy life there together with our dogs for the next several years. To the casual observer, I was living my dream and yet I still felt as if something was missing.
Then, one day, in response to a need in my church, I volunteered to lead a class of 4 and 5 year olds for a couple hours each week while their moms met for coffee. Within minutes I fell in love with teaching and the opportunities it allowed me to share my creative skills by investing in young lives. Children possess an exuberance for life and an eagerness to learn that is absolutely contagious. The more time I spent with them the more I realized that my calling in life hadn't culminated with the earning of my art degree and I began to see a whole new world of learning opening up for me.
After gaining several years of volunteer experience, I decided to apply for a position as a Head Start Education Assistant, both for the chance to work more closely with children and for the personal education opportunities. Since then, I have enjoyed the challenge of reaching toward my CDA and after obtaining it plan to pursue a teaching degree - the ultimate goal being to head my own classroom where I can continue with even greater skill to to help children discover the world around them.
Of course, everyone always wants to know where "children" fit into my life plan and while it used to bother me (both because I wanted them and couldn't as well as because I hated being made to feel inferior), I can now with total honesty say that I have faith in God's plan for my whole life. He has shown me in so many ways that while my own sandcastles may be washed away, it is He who created the entire earth and I need not fret over my ability to form my own future. All He asks is that I diligently use the tools he has given me.
Am I giving up on the dream of expanding my business? Certainly not! Don't I realize that you can't juggle children plus 2 careers plus a home and husband at one time? Absolutely, which is why I am at peace with the opportunities I have been given now and have faith that when the time is right for my husband and I to start the adoption process, God will give us the green light on that too.
It's a wonderful relief to to realize that while my hands may be on the steering while, I don't have to be the navigator as well.