I never planned on teaching at Lincoln Christian. It’s not that I planned not to, but I felt God wanted me called to work in the public schools, primarily with at-risk students. And that’s what I did for about seven years. My students taught me about diversity, strength, hardship, and courage. They inspired me, but over time, it took its toll.
In late February, one of my students — a kid I worked with everyday, a kid whose list of heartbreaks was longer than his sad face — was suspended for threatening to shoot a classmate. And honestly, I wasn’t naive enough to think he wouldn’t do it. So, a few weeks later, when a freak reaction to an antibiotic landed my daughter in the emergency room and I found myself glued to her bedside having already prepped my classes and graded my papers, I did what any other burned out teacher would do: I Googled job listings. And that’s when my scrolling finger stopped abruptly at the advertisement for an English teacher at LCS.
To be honest, I felt guilty even applying. Hadn’t God called me to be light? And how could I be light if I wasn’t in a dark place?
Despite my doubts, I submitted the application. Besides, I told myself, maybe they won’t even call. And when “they” did, I determined to hold it all loosely. I didn’t assume I’d get the job. In fact, I reminded myself as I headed out of the senior high office and into the parking lot, I didn’t even need it. But, when Dr. Kassebaum called and offered it to me, my husband and my prayers led us to the same conviction: this was what God had for me. And in the few short months I’ve been at LCS, I’ve realized a couple of the things He wanted to (re)teach me through this change:
- God loves to give good gifts to His children, and his directing me here was a big one! His new-everyday-mercies have included the two women from the mom’s prayer group who were waiting outside my classroom to pray with me as I was moving in; the first couple of chapels during which I cried because it was so amazing to worship alongside my students and co-workers; and the first few times I had to pick my jaw up off the floor because students thanked me for teaching them as they filed out of the classroom. Indeed, opportunities for ministry (to and FROM my students) abound!
- And this brings me to lesson #2: Despite the fact that I’m working in a Christian environment, I can still be light. In fact, I can be light even better because, here, light is celebrated. I see now that I was wrong to think that students here wouldn’t have deep needs and insecurities because, hey, so do I. It’s the human condition. But exchanging empty phrases like “you can do it” and “you’re stronger than you think” with Biblical truths like “God has a plan for your life” and “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” makes all the difference in time of struggle. Moreover, teaching reading and writing in the context of God’s love and plan for humanity brings spiritual context to everything we do, and that is really rewarding for this bookworm!
The bottom line is that God’s plans — though often surprising — are always the best. He’s been teaching me this my entire life. These days, however, I’m thankful to be learning this at LCS.
~Kristen Friesen, LCS English Teacher and Drama Coach