She read, “you wake up in that roadside motel room,” and small-talk ceased.
She’s reading my story.
I’d been skipping class on and off, and an hour before I’d submitted it, a kind friend had texted, “We’re turning in short stories today.” I’d written it in a rush. I’d barely ended it. I paid my quarter to use the dorm printer and ran to class. Late. I was late again. I offered my late, crappy story to the pile and prayed for the best.
Now my professor read my late, crappy story as an example of what not to do. My face warmed. I studied the floor. My heartbeat throbbed in my brain. I wanted to melt away. I was the joke of the day.
But no one laughed. “She didn’t go down without a fight,” my professor read. The last line. It was over, finally. Still, no one spoke. My professor invited me claim that late, crappy story.
Then, he spoke. “Dang, Kathleen. Where have you been?” Only he didn’t say dang and I was red all over again.
The small class echoed my classmate’s praise and suddenly I found myself with two fellow writers for an after-class workshop with our published professor. Later, I found myself in her office to further discuss the story.
Somehow, the conversation turned from sin and Catholicism to the Hallmark Channel and her mother. The walls between us fell. We were more than professor and student. We were friends. She was sharing her heart.
“You know, you’re a writer. But you’d make a good counselor.”
Shyly, I thanked her and left. What she had said meant a lot to me. Through her, God affirmed for the billionth time my call to write. It was one of those days you treasure, the kind you reflect on when courage evades you.
It’s what I reflected on in that twenty-ninth hour when ecclesiastical doubt filled my restless heart.
“But you’d make a good counselor.” How many times had I replayed that line? After my third year of teaching – after the loss of a student – I took a year off to substitute teach. Zach and I took a spiritual gifts class and the valley cleared of fog. My gifts worked with teaching, but would blossom in counseling.
Still, I feared unfamiliar territory. And so I sat in a thirty-two hour professional development, excited about English, excited about working with kids. But, at the edge of year five, the excitement for teaching was a dying flame. I felt shame in my realization. And had I wasted these years teaching? Swiftly,God affirmed for the billionth time that counseling was my new mountain to climb. That my years teaching were not wasted. Shame and fear lifted again like fog. My restless spirit rested.
Sometimes, God calls us here and there to lead us to unseen mountains and valleys. On the switchbacks and unmarked trails, everything seems backwards. Miles of wandering through fog seem wasted. But God leads us patiently. He knows the map better than we can read it. He’s drawn it and is faithful to guide us. We have only to seek and trust him.
Photo Credit: Michael Reavis Photography