One thing I really hate is roller-coasters. I hate the feeling of being out of control, unable to stop the machine, and hurtling towards great and unforeseen drops at an alarming rate. In fact it’s making my feet tingle just thinking about it. I’ve been in a kiddie roller-coaster and that was enough – never again!
In the last two years I’ve been on the age-old metaphor of the roller-coaster of emotion and in the last 6 months I haven’t written because of it.
Since studying GCSE Russian history with one of my closest friends, she offhandedly mentioned my own (not quite Stalinesque) 5 year plans. I knew where I was headed and I knew what I wanted from life. Fortunately in my life it wasn’t a plan for world domination, more along the lines of degree, job, marriage, family, home…simple enough things. And two years ago I had it. We were married, owned our own modest flat, both working and earning enough to live comfortably, seeing friends, going on occasional holidays and making our house into a home.
Then, almost 2 years ago, my marriage broke down unexpectedly. I don’t know that I will ever fully understand the whys and wherefores, and how something so seemingly perfect can change so quickly. He had decided to leave and suddenly, my life had undergone a cataclysmic change that I’d had no choice in.
If I’m brutally honest, outside of my circle of incredible friends, I found it embarrassing to talk about. I was ashamed our marriage had failed when it had been so solid. We’d been together 11 years, through a catalogue of life experiences and our families were friends – in short, this was never meant to happen to us, and neither of us had anticipated that it ever would. I felt like I’d failed, and would be the subject of gossip.
Now in the process of divorce, I have learnt more than I ever thought possible, about myself, others, marriage, and God. It’s the variety of things I’ve learnt and grown in that I now feel able to write about, so watch this space!
So I was totally out of control as far as my marriage was concerned. I prayed at every opportunity and was surrounded by many people interceding on our behalf. However, there was nothing practical that I could do to resolve this, in what I felt was the best way which was to save and restore our marriage. I could either throw God out as someone who clearly didn’t care about me due to life events, or throw myself onto God and his mercy and compassion, and believe that out of every horrible and disastrous situation, comes something of worth.
I’d been umming and ahhing for a little while over my work life: as a teacher there are parts of the job I love (the kids and the actual teaching to name two), and parts I don’t (endless weekends and evenings of work – yes, even though I get lots of holidays). I’d been toying with the idea of what to do, and whether to continue in teaching or to take a different career direction. Whenever I prayed, I felt peace about resigning. However, that would have meant being totally and utterly out of control.
Resigning with no job – madness; much like getting onto a roller-coaster, except long term.
In the midst of this major consideration, in February my life took a further twist. After a year of separation and hope for reconciliation, my husband decided he wanted to divorce. Whilst being a definite decision, it threw everything I knew into disarray; now I was to be definitively on my own. Me, myself and I – and some fabulous friends to keep me going. Despite being overwhelmed by the incredible pain and loss, I was surprised by the clear thought in my mind; I should resign regardless.
If you know me at all, you will know how incredibly unlike me that thought was. In fact, it is the absolute opposite of my own thought process. Now was the time to look for safety, security and everything that was being taken from me in terms of marriage. Now I was to be completely down to one income, which would be gone if I resigned. Even worse, there was no job on the horizon.
But the fact I found the lifestyle demoralising was a major reason that I wanted to move on. Yes, for those that don’t teach, the holidays are fantastic, yet they do compensate for your evenings, weekends and the 50 hour+ week in the term time. In reference to an earlier post – I wanted to be able to give my time to others whenever I wanted, not when term dictated. I didn’t want this lifestyle, married or not. The pros for me at this time didn’t outweigh the cons.
Pros and cons debated, every eventuality considered, I wanted to wait until I had a job before I resigned. I wanted to remain in control of something (anything!) – my favourite place to be.
I knew God was saying to trust Him. It was one of the moments my pastor had spoken about – dive into the empty swimming pool and God will fill it with water (which has even less chance of happening than me resigning on the verge of divorce with no job, or indeed getting on a roller-coaster). God was saying to resign with no job to go to and to trust that He would look after me in whatever way necessary, to step off the metaphorical diving board.
These past two years have been the singular most trusting-in-God experience of my life, and had I not undergone the trauma of my marriage breaking down, feeling totally out of control, and relying on God so completely, I doubt I would have had the ability to say ‘yes’ to what God asked.
So on the back of an interview for a job I didn’t get offered, a pending divorce, and a trust and assurance that God was good even if my experiences were bad, I resigned.
My back-up plans consisted of maybe being offered a job in the next 6 months following the interview, should they have another post which was possible but by no means certain, and numerous offers of places to live and people to rent out my flat if I became homeless due to lack of funds.
Many of the reactions to my decision outside of my close friends and family were along the same lines.
What will you do about money? Don’t know.
What will you do? Not sure, I know what I’d like to do but…
How many jobs have you applied for? Only the ones I really want to do (at this point 3 in total).
Are you sure you don’t want to stay? Yes, thanks though.
Aren’t you worried?
Actually, no. I did of course have the occasional moments of ‘I must be mad’, but mostly I felt completely peaceful about it. Perhaps that was because there were still a good 3 months to go before term ended at the point of resignation. Plenty of time to find a job!
However, 2 months to go, no job or any more interviews, still peaceful.
1 month, no job or interviews, still peaceful.
1 week, no job, no interviews, still peaceful. It felt like completely the right decision, regardless of outward appearance, which admittedly was looking increasingly like I must have a screw loose.
By this point I was excited too – no more classroom teaching! (Unless I needed to supply teach for funds.) But no more! Feeling out of control had never felt so liberating. I was completely depending on God, and still only applying for the jobs I could a) get to, and b) wanted to do (now at a grand total of 4..).
I knew enough about God to know He is a God who times things to perfection. Often as a human, this is known as ‘the last minute’, and the very moment at which you think you’ve heard it all wrong, before everything fits swimmingly into place and people call it a coincidence.
The evening before term ended I received an email from the place I had previously interviewed, asking to call me with regards to some positive developments. I tried phoning but they’d all gone home. I hardly dared hope that this would be the perfect moment for God to come through, although in my heart of hearts I knew this was God’s timing like nothing else.
On the final day of term I focused on my lovely class who were leaving school for the last time, while phoning at break time, at lunchtime, and into the afternoon once the children were gone. The lady to whom I needed to speak was in meetings. Eventually, my LSA and I reached the point of giving up – covered in dust and with piles of stuff shoved into bags to sort at home, we prepared to leave. And finally, at 4:30pm the phone rang.
At the last moment of my time in school, I was offered a job!
My new boss was ringing in advance of HR (who wouldn’t get in touch for another 2 weeks) as we had already been in contact. I was able to share the good news with all my colleagues and friends before I left for the last time. To quote my LSA – stuff like this never happens! But God is the God of perfect and immaculate timing.
I would never have anticipated the peace I experienced when the whole situation was out of my control. To be leaving teaching, heading to no money, while taking on a mortgage by myself should have been terrifying in the extreme, or something I’d never have done in a million years. But I’m so grateful to have trusted God, with the huge things as well as the small. Had I not trusted, I’d have had to decline, unable to leave my teaching post until the end of October. Peacefulness abounded in me, which for a person with 5 year plans for their life really shouldn’t figure.
The job? I’m going to be working at the House of Commons in the Education Service, giving tours, workshops and helping to develop resources. It’s still teaching, but in a very different setting. I’m incredibly excited to be working in such a beautiful place, and to be in London (you can take the girl out of London…). What an incredible opportunity!
Had I got the job in April, I would have started by now. Instead, I should start in September sometime, following my last hurrah of the teaching perk that is the summer holidays. Also, had I got the job in April, I would never have relied on God to this extent, and learnt what it was to trust Him down to the wire.
Am I nervous about this new venture? Sure!
Thinking I might miss the holidays? Yep.
Wondering what the commute will be like? Definitely.
Will I move? Maybe one day.
Do I feel I did the right thing in trusting God even though to the world it looked mad? Absolutely.
I don’t imagine for one moment my roller-coaster is over, and every day there are dips and troughs as I negotiate life and the world of divorcing. But I hope that whatever highs and lows are before me, I will be mindful to keep God in control. Having trusted Him in this, it does make me wonder, what does He want me to trust Him in next??