Essay 11 of 52: teaching, but not a teacher

Yesterday, a few of us at work were sitting around chatting. I love that kind of stuff. I was talking to one of our newer co-workers who I don't know very well. I find her fascinating because I can tell she has LIVED. You know what I mean? She's taken chances and moved across the country and seen things and had important jobs. She seems like she has so much hiding under the surface and -- I respect her.

So we're talking back and forth and in the middle of our chat, she looks at me and says, "Have you ever thought about teaching? I think you would be a great teacher."

My initial reaction was delight. I love compliments. Verbal affirmation all the way.

My second reaction was disappointment.

I don't want to be a teacher. I tried subbing and I hated it. (Yes, I realize that subbing isn't actually teaching, but I still got a pretty good grasp on the life of a teacher.) My sister's a teacher and I see how tired she is, how the bad attitudes and the constant struggle of discipline weigh on her.

What a bummer to be good at something I don't really want to do.

A few hours later I'm at home, curling my hair for date night, when it hits me: I'm already a teacher. Since when was the classroom the only place teaching occurs? I love teaching, I'm good at it, and I'm already doing it.

I've taught Zumba, an experience that I loved. But I hope that when I was showing dance moves, that I was also teaching girls how to be sexy - no matter their size. I hope I was teaching confidence and security. I hope I was teaching that exercising is fun and doesn't always start with running five laps on a track.

I've been a camp counselor for fourth graders all the way to teenagers. I played volleyball and tether ball and four-square. I made countless friendship bracelets and listened to Taylor Swift for hours on end. But I hope that when I was with my sweet campers, I was teaching them too - how to be happy with their body, how to talk to peers, how to dance with abandon. I hope they listened when I shared my past hurts, struggles, and victories.

I was a youth intern too, the last two summers of my college years. I took girls to breakfast and played Catch Phrase and went repelling. We went to midnight premiers and on mission trips and hiked 14ers. But I was teaching them too. I hope I taught them the importance of prayer, of faith, of a personal relationship with Christ. I hope I taught them to laugh and cry and that as women, they are enough. Not too much, enough

But there is so much I still want to teach.

I want to teach my children. I want to show them how to be thoughtful, imaginative, and faithful. I want to encourage my babies to be thankful, be thinkers, and most importantly - to be themselves while allowing God to slowly refine them into the people He wants them to be. I know I will be teaching them regardless, but I want my example to be a good one.

I want to teach Sunday-school. I want to meet those middle-school girls right where they are and be honest. I want to watch movies with them and go running and be silly. I want them to know that middle school is survivable. I did it! I made it through. I want to teach toddlers and third-graders. I want to build on the foundation their parents have forged.

I want to teach young wives how to cook. How to prepare healthy foods for their family and husband. I was blessed to have a mom that taught me, but I know that's not always the case. I want to welcome them into my home and my marriage and let them see reality, but also see grace.

I want to teach women about Jesus, about being sinners and needing grace. I want to model encouragement and I want to really listen when they speak. I want to help women learn more about the Bible, how to study and what to read and how to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. I want to teach by writing, but I also want to teach by doing and being - there in the moment. 

But mostly, I want to teach these things because I want to be these things.
Who said a true vocation requires a paycheck?

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