Have you ever had to give up a job, a project, or a dream that you really wanted, only to find afterwards that the sacrifice had given you your life back? I have had the experience a few times.
The first occassion was about 20 years ago. I was teaching part-time in the small private school my sons attended. I had a wonderfully supportive principal and liked most of my fellow teachers. The families of the students were encouraging and supportive. Theoretically, my work day ended at noon, giving me three hours of ‘free’ time before my children got out of school. However, the free time was often taken up with grading, lesson planning, and filling in where needed. Additionally, the school had some issues which I couldn’t overlook. I struggled with these issues my last year before making the decision to not return. I chose instead to homeschool my sons. A friend questioned that decision. She had homeschooled her son previously and she told me, “When I sent him back to school, I felt like I got my life back.”
For me, the opposite was true. As I adjusted to being a home-school mom, I realized I had gotten my life back. I enjoyed teaching, but it was time-consuming and extracted a toil on my family. Homeschooling allowed my children and I to sleep in and be better rested. It allowed me to focus my ‘best energies’ on my husband and sons and to have more time to take care of my home and prepare more home-cooked meals. An added benefit was the ability to travel and take vacations when everyone else was in school. I never regretted my decision to be a full-time mother and homeschool teacher, even though that was not what prompted me to make the decision to my teaching job.
After six years of homeschooling, my husband and I decided to open a restaurant. The boys were hold enough to work in the restaurant. The plan was that my husband would run the restaurant in the mornings, while I home schooled the boys; the boys and I would cover the evening shifts. It was a good plan, but needless to say, things did not work out exactly as planned. Homeschool and family life soon took a back seat to the demands of business ownership. After much soul-searching, we decided to sell the restaurant. It was a difficult decison for me, as I felt we had worked so hard to make this dream a reality. I was heartbroken that it hadn’t worked out as planned. Yet, once it was sold, I again had the feeling that giving it up allowed me to get my life back.
Once the business was sold and we had moved back to our home town, our twins asked to enroll at the local Christian high school. They needed a math teacher, so I found myself teaching again. I loved being part of this wonderful Christian school, but it was demanding. I taught seven classes daily in addition to being a class sponsor and helping out with other clubs and projects. I stayed for two years after the twins graduated and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yet, I felt God leading me to leave. Again, it was a hard decision. God led me to another job that allows me to use the skills I have honed through my past work experiences and through business ownership. And, once again, I felt like I got my life back. Teaching was very demanding and required many hours of grading and planning after school hours which took away from my family time. It was also very rewarding, which made the decision to quit that much more difficult.
Since leaving teaching, I have had time again to engage in hobbies and try my hand at some new ones, including writing and blogging. I have had two novels published and recently completed a Bible study on money and finances. God has opened doors that I would not have had the opportunity to walk through if I had remained a teacher.
Perhaps you are wrestling with making a change in your life, such as leaving a job you love or giving up on a dream. Change is never easy, but it can lead to new and exciting opportunites that would never come if the change were not made. Search your heart, pray, and allow God to lead you. As a Christian, I know that God has a great plan for my life. His plans and purposes are much more wonderful that the plans I would make for myself. I have found that I am happiest and feel most like ‘I got my life back’ when I follow the path He lays out for me.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Have you ever made a change and felt like you got your life back?
Do you feel God is leading you to make a change now and you aren’t sure that you want to let go of your current job and/or dream?