I suppose the title of this post could be taken a bit controversially; What exactly do I mean, “I am not my job?” Does it mean I don’t like my job? Does it mean that I don’t want to be classified as an Art Teacher or Artist? Does it mean that my job (or any job, for that matter) is not important?
Does it mean that we often stereotype incorrectly based on a person’s occupation? Does it mean that I don’t want to be seen ONLY as an Art Teacher? Does it mean that my job is only ONE aspect of who I am?
Right now, I’m blessed enough to be going through a virtual Bible Study with some AMAZING ladies through Facebook. We are reading “Working Women of the Bible,” by Susan Dimickele. Each of us is a working lady… I’m an Art Teacher, obviously, but others are Personal Trainers, STAHMs, Auditors and all sorts of professionals. I’m only one chapter in the book right now, but I LOVE it. I am so excited about what this study will bring, and (being the nerd I am) I can’t wait to use the study guide as I journal and sketch all the inspiration, life lessons, and amazing stories I learn as I meed various women of the Bible.
So yes, I am an Art Teacher, but I am SO much more than that. As I was re-reading Genesis 1, I came across a tidbit that I’d written a while ago that really sums it up: “Our occupation/function/job in God’s kingdom is NOT what defines us or gives us our worth… God’s very creation OF us is what gives us INFINITE worth. (Specifically referring to Genesis 1:27 here-“God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”
Oh snap! He created THEM, MALE AND FEMALE… in His image. Both of the genders. In His image. Even in our crazy, chaotic, gender-stereotyped and otherwise inequality-burdened world, we can find comfort in the fact that God intended something different; something more fulfilling and equitable for everyone. (Dimickele 22). I could talk all day about inequality and why I think we should treat others better than we often do. I can’t understand how someone’s skin color, gender, ethnicity, background, etc. changes who they are; NO MATTER WHAT, we are all children of God, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory (Romans 3:23), but He loves us ANYWAYS! There is nothing to be gained by demeaning others, lifting yourself or others up, or fostering racism (of any kind). We can’t “earn” status with God… all we can do is accept it. This blows my mind!
However, I digress… The point of this post is not to ramble or rant about fairness (or my perception thereof). The reason I wanted to write this post is to share that you, my friend, are worth so much more than your career. Our careers are so fleeting, ultimately such a minimal part of our lives and existence (maybe not in hours, but definitely in purpose)! What’s more; our careers are always changing… we jump from one job to the next sometimes, trying to climb up the corporate ladder, nail the next audition, earn partner, or receive the highest honors in our field, whatever they may be. ONE thing remains constant: God and His calling for our life. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
This calling is something that matters more than the ins and outs of daily life. God doesn’t call us to ONE career–He calls us to one purpose, which He can fulfill through any career, if we let Him and expect Him to show up.
I’m not advocating career-hopping. The last thing I think people need is inconsistency and unreliability! However, sometimes we change. Our circumstances change. The job and its requirements change. Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us is to be honest; admit that we are either overwhelmed, or the job isn’t right anymore, WE aren’t right for the job at this time, or whatever.
I’ll use a personal example here. I taught Art for two years (2012-2014). I was so excited to use my degree and make a difference right out of college. I graduated from Brevard in May 2012, and by June 15, I had a job… IN MY FIELD. Honestly, I was surprised, ’cause I’d always been told that was rare, especially in the Arts. I had all sorts of ideas of what I would do in the classroom, what my life would look like, and where I was headed.
God had other plans.
The first year was pretty good; I had done well, my students succeeded, and I got along with all my colleagues. However, I wasn’t at peace entirely. Throughout the second year, I struggled. Not as far as the job was concerned; I knew what I was talking about, what I was doing, and teaching came easily to me. Since that seemed to be the case, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t love it. I kept thinking to myself, if God gave me this talent for teaching, why don’t I love it? It got to a point where I was pretty unhappy, and wanted to go back to school, back to being in a studio, painting and working every day.
I spent the next two years at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, way up near Canada (for reference). I LOVED IT. Everything about it. And I made so many amazing friends, connections, and learned SO much. Then I graduated, culminating in the most surreal exhibition experience I’ve EVER had. I found myself at a crossroads. I had gone to graduate school to pursue a career in the Museum/Gallery aspect of the Arts, so I tried that. I quickly realized that, between two jobs, I had no time to make my own work. I thought I hadn’t had time during my teaching years, but juggling two jobs taught me that I really DID, I just didn’t realize it or know how to maximize it.
Enter Pinnacle Classical Academy. I began thinking about teaching more and more, realizing (after the fact, of course) what I had taken for granted the first time around. A dear high school teacher of mine reached out to me about teaching Middle and High School Art at Pinnacle, and I was leery at first, simply based on my previous experience. But I was also excited. I had done my student teaching at the high school level, and knew I loved that age group. My first teaching job had been 5th and 6th grade and I only saw them once a week, if even. At Pinnacle, I’d see them more regularly and for longer class periods. Plus the school is on the newer side; I would be able to be part of something in it’s developmental stages, evolving as the school grows and improves. THAT was and is super exciting to me.
So now, I’ll be teaching again in a few weeks. I’m setting up my classroom soon, rolling out lesson plans, making samples, and drawing up some posters for the classroom. Meanwhile, I’m really genuinely excited. Add to that this Bible Study on working women of the Bible, and its focus on putting God first in work and doing everything for Him (Colossians 3:23) and this girl is ready to go! I’m in a better headspace. I appreciate what I have more, plus my nephew is 2.5 and has a wee little sister on the way and I now live only 15 minutes from them.
I know the future is uncertain. I have no idea where this will lead. I only know one thing: God says, “I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) BRING IT ON! And keep me accountable, friends.
Peace and love,