The building where I worked is over a century old. Massive limestone blocks form its rugged exterior—a façade from another time.
Everyone says it looks like a castle, but to me it felt more like a fortress.
I’d arrive in the early morning, one of the first to enter the building, to prepare for my classes. Sunlight streaming through tall windows always caught my attention, stirred my creativity, and reminded me that I was not alone in this solitary venture.
This fortress was, for me, a place of safety, but also a place of battle. A place where some students struggled to put words to ideas and others struggled simply to find their place.
It was a place where I, too, struggled to make sure every class was “just right,” and a place where I struggled not to beat myself up too much when that didn’t happen.
Yesterday I went to class, gave an exam, told my students to have a good summer, and left the beautiful, old limestone building for good.
(OK, not really for good. I still have to clean out my office.)
What has felt like a solid fortress for me suddenly offered no protection, and I walked out, alone. I made my way slowly to my car, sniffed the heavy perfume of the flowering trees, and asked the Lord, “Now what?”
“These are my people, Lord. This is my place. This is what I do. What’s next?”
I thought back over the past four years—four years that I could never imagine would happen after I left teaching the first time.
Four years. Over 200 students. Countless laughs. Innumerable conversations. Too many papers. Abundant blessings.
The past four years have been some of the richest, most rewarding, most fulfilling and confidence-building years of my life. They have also been some of the challenging, bracing, and confidence-destroying years of my life.
To say that I have found a sense of worth, calling, and identity as a professor would be an understatement.
And yet, this is not where my worth, calling, and identity lie.
I’m leaving the fortress, unsure of what’s next. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what God will call me to. But I do know this: that I am trying my best to ask the right questions, to seek the right answers, and to be obedient in my calling.
I trust God to take care of the rest.
The phrase “This is the first day of the rest of your life” keeps going through my head today.
Probably because it is.