My mom has worked hard her entire life. I always wanted to be just like her, but she never wanted that for me. She wanted me to enjoy my childhood, be able to embrace my femininity, and be cared for. To that end, she discouraged me from having a job all throughout high school. She never pressured me to to be "responsible" in that way. She taught me responsibility in other ways. I never had a job until after high school, but by the age of 7 or 8 I managed our household laundry (for 8 people), vacuumed, did dishes, changed (cloth) diapers for my baby brothers, and knew how to cook a few things like eggs and quesadillas. I was always expected to be responsible for my own actions and to care for all my siblings, to be respectful, and cultivate a relationship with God. I even had to keep a budget when I made $2/week in allowance. Still, I never worked a "real" job.
"You'll have your whole life to work," my mom would say. And I'm really thankful that she did that. I never had the temptation to find my identity in work or career. My mom helped me to be pretty confident in who God had made me to be.
But... eventually, I graduated from high school and didn't really want to stick around the still-foreign-to-me east coast. I packed my bags and drove an old, decrepit Thunderbird across the U.S. until I landed safely back in California (where I felt I belonged!). Thus starting my illustrious career in the working world which lasted all of 2 or 3 years and included assembly line work (completely operated and instructed by Spanish speakers and I don't speak Spanish), office work, nonprofit caregiving, and telephone sales.
I never really found my niche, I guess, and happily surrendered my place in the rat race for the job of raising my children. I remember Dave saying--as an answer to someone shortly after our kids were born--that eventually I would most likely work again when the kids were older. At the time, I couldn't even fathom that stage ever arriving. It seemed like a far distant world. And yet, here I am--8 years later--a "stay-at-home mom" with no kids at home for 5 hours each day. There's plenty to do during that time, but I started putting my feelers out there into that old cantankerous world of work and felt a feeling of dread and anxiety wash over me. I never liked that world, never quite got comfortable. Would it be the same now? Would it best me yet again?
I began to pray. And think. And pray. I talked to my grandmother who suggested looking into asking around at my kids' school to see what I could do there. That planted a seed.
And now, here I am, 7 months later, the proud new owner of a user name and password for the Berkeley School Districts "substitute-finder" program. I got a call the same day I finished registering and went to work a few hours later. Its only been 2 days, so we'll see how it goes, but I really enjoyed going home after a few hours not carrying the weight of the job on my shoulders. I can go in and do a good job and not worry about it after that. I'm happy to have something that I can do according to my own schedule where I'm actually helping people that need it--filling a hole (something that I love to do)--and still be free to be concerned with the things of my family and not be distracted from them by the stresses of a job.
I tell you, God has been so gracious to me with this job that I didn't even have to fight to get. I did have to follow through and be a little bit fearless, though. I am always afraid of the unknown, so I'm thankful the Lord helped me to not let that stop me from looking into this. He has been so gracious to me even after getting the job, too, because thats when the worry and fear started creeping in. "What if I don't get any jobs?" "What if my time constraints don't work with the hours for the substitute positions they need filled?" "What if? What if? What if?" I kept having to surrender my thoughts, my time, and my life to His care. Let Him worry it. And He supplied a job that first day to alleviate my fears.
And still after that! I started fearing again: "What if that was the only one I get?" "What if? What if? What if?" And He graciously gave me two more that were perfect. He is so kind and gentle with me, with my fearful and wavering heart. I keep having to remember: I can trust Him. He holds me in His hands. His very capable hands. And He loves me. He showed me that when He sent His Son to die for me. What more proof do I need? None, but still He gives it to me each day in many different ways. I will praise the Lord.