"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."
This is perhaps the best Thoreau-ism of all time. It speaks to me louder than any other tidbit the man wrote in Walden (and believe me, there are gazillions). In fact, I have, since visiting Walden Pond at age 19, kept a framed version of those words in my home.
My husband and I, we hadn't been living the life we imagined.
The Mister and I are sometimes referred to as optimists, hippies, free-spirits, etc. All of these words in some way or another really just mean that we are dreamers, at least to a degree. We imagine a better life for our family, a better world in general, an unconventional style of living for ourselves.
For one reason or another though, we have always had a tendency to simply go with the flow. This hasn't always been a bad thing--we have been presented with many wonderful opportunities and have lived a happy and comfortable life. We have a joyful marriage, delightful children, and a peaceful home.
However, in spite of all this, we weren't living the life we imagined. And we were sort of circling around our dreams, not walking confidently toward them. An opportunity would arise, and provided it made sense, we'd take it.
Turns out, we're kind of chicken.
For several years now, I have been teaching high school. And although it is a job I enjoy, and a job at which I know I am very good, my heart isn't totally in it. After I had my daughter, this became even more apparent, and through my pregnancy with my son, I knew that what I really wanted was to simply be a mom to my children. At the end of the last school year, that opportunity became a reality.
Originally, the choice had been made for me--like many of the choices we had fallen into over the years. My position was no longer available, and it seemed to make sense. However, as more positions opened in my district and I was being offered them, the idea of staying home became more and more difficult to wrestle with. I was no longer forced out of my position; I had to make a choice.
Ultimately, we decided that we would somehow make ends meet, and we followed the very strong spiritual promptings that I should leave teaching. It was one of the first real "leaps" we had taken in our marriage--a first, confident step in the direction of our dreams, and the catalyst for the pathway that opened up for us.
Over this past summer, we received a major shock. My husband's own teaching position--a position which had literally fallen into his lap--was in serious jeopardy. He had been teaching wood shop at the high school level for the last few years. And while he enjoyed it greatly, he had originally taken the job in hopes that it would open up his schedule a bit more, allowing him to finish his own college degree.
However, what we really ended up doing was enrolling him in a lot of classes to keep up with his teaching requirements, which hardly pertain to what he really wants to be when he "grows up." At any rate, at the end of summer, it became very apparent that the work he had put into maintaining his teaching certificate may turn out to have been in vain. We were, quite simply, put into a tailspin as our sense of security, our sure ability to provide for our children, and our general complacency went out the window.
We struggled through those few days. We wondered why, in His infinite wisdom, the Lord would have prompted us so strongly for me to leave my teaching position, if this was coming down the pipe. We wondered why He prompted us so strongly to push my husband through a series of summer courses for his teaching certificate that were intense--academically and financially--if there would be no job for him to use them.
Finally, once the shock began to wear off, we got down to business and started addressing the situation. We turned to the Lord and quit asking "Why did this happen?" and started asking "Where do we go from here?"
We started looking for jobs (hard to come by for teachers at the end of summer) and exploring options. We asked ourselves the questions that really mattered--what do we want most?--and came up with nearly identical answers--space for our kids, simplicity, nature, and for my husband to finally be done with school. We realized the things we wanted most, were things we didn't have.
The idea of my husband going back to school came up, and while it seemed crazy--to pick up our kids, sell everything we owned, and go back to the poor student lifestyle--it became apparent that this was precisely the opportunity we had been given. The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, had given us a chance to really make our choice--not to fall into something, but to make a choice. We realized that my husband could continue to pursue teaching--something he enjoyed, but wasn't his dream--, or he could go back to school and live the life we imagined. And we KNEW that whichever choice we made, things would start to fall into place, because both were equally worthy in they eyes of the Lord.
Once we chose to send my husband back to school, miracles began to happen. The night we made the decision, we both came up with the name of the same university--a place neither of us had ever given much thought to. That same night, I found a job posting at the university that fit my skills perfectly--it would also provide free housing and income. Those summer classes he had taken for his teaching certificate? They put him over the edge to qualify for a full-tuition scholarship, thanks to his perfect grades.
The impending move let us start letting go of the things we thought we needed--we were finally starting to kick the consumer habit. He was able to keep his teaching position through December, and was accepted to the University for January. I got the job (hooray for a place to live and income), and some dear friends approached us about renting the home we own in Arizona.
The list of blessings goes on (and on!), but suffice it to say, once we started asking the Lord the right questions, the "why" became apparent. Here was an event, originally seen as disaster, that instead turned out to be a miraculous gift. He knew the desires of our heart--He knew of the life we had been imagining. And all He wanted to do was give us the confidence to head in that direction.
guest post by Kierra of A Pumpkin to Myself
Photo by Per OlaWiberg