Three and a half years ago, at the start of my final year of school, I wrote a blog entry which quoted St Francis of Assisi who once said, ‘bloom where you are planted’. It was a restless time in my life. Many of my closest friends had packed up, moved on and left Plymouth to do new and exciting things with their lives. I found myself feeling very impatient; already dreaming of the things I could do and the places I could go and yet knowing I had to sit through my final year of A Levels to get there.
I re-read this original post a couple of days ago when I decided to update my blog after over two years and, funnily enough, I found it spoke exactly into what I wanted to write about and how I was feeling. Not only this, but as I read upwards in my blog to more recent posts, I found myself reflecting on it again a year later in a post that I wrote after the first two weeks of University. In both cases, I was reminding myself that God places us exactly where we need to be, and that whilst it might take courage and faith to follow where he is leading us, its a leap we have to take in order to continue on the adventure of walking in faith with him.
In the past 3 months, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do when I graduate. For someone who sucks at making decisions when it really matters, it was easy… I was going to be a teacher. Now, all I had to do was make the application, go to to the interviews and see what happened. Before the interviews, I was more apprehensive than I had ever been in my life. I promised myself I would only share it with people who needed to know, but in my panic I told anyone who would listen about my upcoming interviews and gladly welcomed any well wishes and prayer that they offered. The night before my first interview, where I had to give a presentation on why RE should be on the curriculum, I painstakingly rehearsed until the early hours of the morning and dragged my flat mate Rudy into my room to give me any feedback. Then, when I really should have got into bed and slept for my 6am start, I sat at my desk in the mountain of Q cards that I had gathered and prayed. I remember not really knowing what to say except HELP, and in this moment some lyrics from the song ‘Guardian’ came to me, ‘you go before me, you’re there beside me’. And so, in my exhaustion and nervousness, I simply prayed that I would go into the interview knowing that God went before me and somehow had it all figured out.
The next day, I arrived embarrassingly early to St Mary’s Twickenham and so decided to go on a walk in my attempt to not look so keen. That would have been a great idea, if I didn’t get lost and end up showing up just on time with a bright red face from a mixture of walking faster than my fitness level really allows and the freezing cold November air. I joined a bunch of smartly dressed people mostly around my age and waited in awkward silence to be told what to do next. (If you know me, you know that I don’t like awkward silences, and this was probably the hardest part of the whole interview process). Before long, an equally flustered and out of breath man showed up who would be looking after us for the day. He had a cracking sense of humour and a warm persona from the get go and introduced himself as ‘Uncle C’. He reminded me of my dad, and straight away I took a deep breath and thought ‘how bad can it be?’.
That week was looooooong. I had three back to back interviews for two different training providers, and I lived in fear of being asked a question about Islam that my three weeks of cramming from ‘Islam for dummies’ had not equipped me to answer. Needless to say, I lived through it, and ended up with offers from both places. I ended up withdrawing from the third interview because I already had two great options and I didn’t want to miss teaching my Debate Mate kids for two weeks in a row. (It was nice after trying to convince people for the whole week that I was good enough to be a teacher to go back to my own class who sometimes make me feel like an oracle who knows all the answers when in reality I’m learning alongside them).
So, then came the hardest part… actually deciding. God was so faithful to my prayers and made the whole interview process more of a joy than a struggle, and there I was, faced with a whole new problem. The girl who sucks at making decisions when it really mattered returned. Do I go with the familiar safe option or try somewhere new? I was constantly reminded of the time that I picked one university for my degree, then rang up UCAS to change my mind after the deadline, then told them it was fine, I was just having a bad day. Whilst laughing at how useless I am at making decisions, I thought about what eventually drew me to King’s. On paper, it was a bad idea, a big change that I don’t think I was ready for. But as always, hindsight is a beautiful thing. What would I have missed out on if I hadn’t gone to King’s? My job, my friends, travelling the world? I guess what i’m trying to get at, is that I realised that whilst ‘change’ was scary- its always fruitful. It always leads to some kind of growth, sometimes in ways that we didn’t even realise we needed.
I prayed for a clear answer about where to go, and when I got it, I found myself saying ‘yeah, but…’ Here’s where Ecclesiastes 3:1 comes in, where it clearly states, ‘there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens’. Sometimes, we have to take a leap and go, even if we don’t know what that will look like. I HATE uncertainty, and this was half of my problem with the decision making process; but one day I laughed at myself when I remembered that if we follow God where we are called, its always fruitful.
So, from September 2017 onwards i’ll be a student teacher at St Mary’s on a Schools Direct programme- and I have no doubt that i’ll be one of those ones who shares all of their joys and frustrations with whoever will listen. Once again, the words of old St Francis are ringing in my ear… ‘bloom where you are planted’. Even though I may have been reluctantly uprooted from where I was, i’m going on a journey, and it’s gonna be a good one.