PRAIRIE GIRL GOES COASTAL: THE WINTER OF DISCONTENT

In my last blog post (click here to read), I shared the importance of downsizing the right way; something that should never be done when one is in emotional upheaval. 

With no income coming into the house after my husband’s second job loss in less than ten months, I felt I had no choice but to set aside my writing and music and focus on getting money into our home immediately.

First, I dusted off my teaching credentials and applied to substitute teach. 

I also sought out more author readings and signed up for as many trade shows as I could, given the prime upcoming retail holiday season. 

It was hard to imagine myself going back to teaching after so many years away from the classroom. I had left the profession 13 years ago under traumatic circumstances. (I wrote about my journey in a short story “From Heartache to Heart Restored,” published in Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon by That’s Life Communications.) But I had a role in my family to fulfill. I have always been the one to step in and take the lead when there is a crisis. 

I was now going to be our family’s breadwinner. 

In truth, I was dreading having to get up every day before 7 am in case I got a call for subbing. I looked forward to that as little as walking into schools whose doorways I hadn’t darkened for over a decade. 

A few weeks went by without an offer from the school division. Always one to practice due diligence, I contacted the board of education office. My application had somehow been buried in paperwork, but yes, they intended to hire me. After our conversation, the hiring process accelerated and soon I was at the board office getting my photo taken for my teacher ID. 

I started getting calls right away. Every time I saw the school board's number pop up on my phone, I came up with an excuse why I shouldn’t answer the call. In my heart of hearts, I simply didn’t feel mentally ready to go back to teaching. 

An unexpected opportunity came up to teach music part-time at a small Christian school. It was for only a half day per week, but it was a steady income and the hours and location were predictable. 

I am always blown away when the Lord gives us exactly what we need, even if we aren’t able to articulate or envision it ourselves. 

The Lord found a way to ease me back into teaching in a safe, supportive environment. As my confidence grew, I realized that I had held on to the lie that I was a failure as a teacher. When the door opened for me to do substitute teaching at the school as well, I was more than ready to take it on.

Meanwhile, I was continuing to do school visits as an author and participating in trade shows. 

Juggling three very different vocations over an extended period of time was incredibly stressful. It was a very busy fall season and I had no time or patience to deal with the challenges at home. I had an important role to fulfill. I was the one keeping my family afloat financially. I am ashamed to say that I wasn’t very empathetic to my husband and his struggles during this time. 

I knew I had to do better. My husband was suffering, but my fuse was short and it didn't take much for me to explode.

Why was I so angry? The Lord had been good to me—to us—by giving me a job, opportunities to continue my work as an author, and solid sales at trade shows. 

Was my temper short because I was exhausted? Was I angry because I felt saddled with a husband who couldn’t seem to pull himself out of his depression and get himself together? Or was it because, as Proverbs 13:12 says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick?” 

I’m sure it was all of the above. But being honest with myself, I was full of resentment because of my husband’s hesitation to go out east when we had the chance. 

A couple of years ago I had picked up a book by bestselling author Shaunti Feldhahn called The Kindness Challenge. Now seemed the perfect time to dive into it. I hoped it would help me be a better, kinder wife. 

Alas, despite reading Shaunti’s book cover to cover, I just couldn’t bring myself to follow through on her daily challenges to be kinder. My anger had such a strong hold on me it seemed to usurp everything. 

By mid-December, I was exhausted. I simply couldn’t keep up the pace of trying to make money, teach, and keep our household afloat, let alone deal with my husband's worsening depression. Thankfully, the Christmas holidays gave me much-needed relief. 

As January approached, with a new school term on the horizon, I started to feel anxious. I tearfully turned to the Lord, crying out for mercy: I didn't think I had the strength to take on another year of stress.

As He does in that still, quiet voice of His, the Lord whispered: “My dear, why did you take on a role that wasn't yours to take?” 

Understanding dawned. God never asked me to take on the role of breadwinner in my house, I had taken it on, on my own accord. Clearly that is not what God intended for me. God has called me to be a writer. He has called me to be a speaker. He has called me to be a musician. And He has called me to be a support for my husband. 

It wasn’t my husband’s fault that he lost two jobs and subsequently suffered from depression. And it certainly wasn’t my wish to feel stressed and angry all the time. 

My husband and I had a frank discussion. He supported my decision to scale back on working outside the home in the new year. 

I reminded myself that my husband had, throughout our marriage, always supported me in important work and family decisions. I needed to be more grateful for his invaluable role in my life. 

We made renewed efforts to pray together daily, something we had neglected as I struggled to find time and energy to fulfill a role that was never mine to take on. 

I saw a counsellor to help me better understand and mitigate my anger. Then my husband and I saw a counsellor together. 

It was the beginning of healing for both of us. 

And the beginning of letting go of my dream.

Click here to read the next instalment of "Prairie Girl Goes Coastal."

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