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Monday, April 11, 2011

“Retirement,” Rejuvenation, and Reassignment

The following was written in October 0f 2010:

Life takes its turns and you find yourself living differently. I had taken a three-year break from teaching and now I am a different role. I have gone from teaching high school English to teaching English as a Second Language to kindergartners, first, and second graders. It's a good fit, thank the Lord.

My life has been a tug-of-war between the home life and the job life. I think it is for many women. I love to write, read, paint, draw, play the piano, study, plunder, write letters, keep house, nest, and sometimes cook. But I have observed that the job makes my time at home all the more precious and, well, productive.

Energy begets energy, creating a momentum. You discover that you can do more than you thought you could. When that law fails, a short nap does wonders.

Finding one’s way to retirement and beyond is a tricky thing. For many, it brings on a panicky feeling. What if I am bored? What if I need to take on a part-time job to make it financially? What else can I do besides this job I have done for thirty years? I speak hypothetically. I have only eleven years of teaching behind me although I am retirement age. Is that a blessing? I can keep at this for years, Lord willing, while my contemporaries are feeling retirement is the next thing to do.

My three years out were rejuvenating. I wrote books (none published yet); I painted; I taught art; I delved into the grandmother role with reckless abandon. I took a few awesome trips. Consequently, life on the job now is fresh. I wish for the weary worker, especially teachers, the same refreshing I was able to experience. My heart goes out the exhausted and burned out teacher. Everyone needs refreshing. I think the sabbatical should be instated.

A few years ago I discovered the book Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. She offers tips and insight for the type of person with many interests. The message in the title is simply this: we do not have to choose one career and follow it straight to retirement. If we have other passions, we should give them place and expression where possible. And she makes the reader think anything is possible. I found the book to ring true for my personality type. I have four or five interests that never leave me. No one job will perfectly incorporate all those interests, but they are still worthy of attention. So, I am fully expecting that I will find the season for painting and writing and cooking and whatever...again. Meanwhile, I am very thankful that I have a job that fits so well.

John 15 talks about the heavenly Father being the husbandman of the vine (or “the vinedresser,” according to some translations). He knows what to prune in order for our lives to bear much fruit. Pruning can be painful because we lose something we are familiar with. Perhaps something we treasure. Our Maker alone knows what will lead to the broader, more fulfilling life, that weaves best into the purposes for which He made us. As I look back on the journey, I see His hand at work in experiences, events, and connections I had no idea were working together for a purpose. I through a glass darkly, but I see better than I did in the "formative" years of my life. Still, it is all a journey of faith. Faith in God, a God who is Love. And faith that all the twists and turns are indeed working toward a good thing...His purposes.

John 15: 1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

James 1: 16-18 a Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth....