Tuesday, August 13, 2013

5 Years Ago

In August 2008, I packed my bags and made the long drive to Iowa one final time.  I was 22 years old, and about to begin my student-teaching practicum.  To say that I was nervous would be an understatement.  This excerpt from a post I wrote at that time reveals some of my anxiety:

The wind blew gently, cool and refreshing.  I put down my sandwich and took a minute to appreciate my surroundings, my eyes following Skyline Divide to the horizon and then carefully studying the mountaintops ahead.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.  On Wednesday, I would pack up my Ford Taurus and leave for Iowa.  It would be hard to leave behind this beauty again.  

In that instant, the fears and uncertainties of graduation day returned in full force.  Was I really supposed to go back?  What if I got in front of the classroom and realized that I wasn't supposed to be a teacher?  How would I survive the semester?  Just what was I supposed to do with my life?

As long as I could remember, I had believed that God had a plan for me, but somehow, in that moment I found trusting harder than ever. 

The others finished eating and we began to walk away from the hilltop, and into the woods; away from summer and into the unknown.

I worried that I'd find I wasn't meant to be a teacher, and that all of my education classes would have been a waste.  However, more than that, I worried about what lay beyond student teaching.  Even if my experience in the classroom went well, what would I do after that?  The name of a Facebook photo album I created that month was "The tip of the question mark".  Everything seemed so uncertain.
Teaching 11th Grade U.S. History in Sept. 2008

What I realize now is that the future is never completely certain.  Putting down roots and having financial security does make a difference, but ultimately, the future is unpredictable.  My 22-year-old self came to grips with his own doubts and difficulty in trusting God at such an uncertain time.  My 27-year-old self recognizes God's hand very clearly guiding me and caring for me over the course of those 5 intervening years.  I would do well not to forget this when I face trials and uncertainties in the future.  

My 22-year-old self had no idea that he would enjoy his student teaching experience (well, half of it, anyway).  My 22-year-old self had no idea that he would move to Japan less than 5 months later.  My 22-year-old self had no idea that in 5 years, he'd be starting his 5th full year of teaching at the same school, that he'd be engaged to a wonderful, Godly woman, or that he'd dedicate much of his free time to learning Japanese.  

The future is uncertain, but God is good; God is faithful.  What's more, God knows our future and His plans are better than ours.  I do not know what the next 5 years will bring, but I am resolved to place my trust and faith in God, who has never abandoned me, and never failed me!

I haven't had a beard like that since then...

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