I was scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed tonight when I happened on this news article posted by a friend and my heart skipped a beat.
I hungrily read through the article, which talks about how CES (the Church Educational System for the LDS Church) just recently changed its policy and will now hire female teachers with children. By the time I reached the end of the article I didn't know if I should do a cartwheel out of joy, or curl up on the couch and bawl.
You see, eight years ago I was a newly married college student at BYU. Jon was still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and so he figured he'd give the idea of teaching seminary a go. Together we signed up for the first Seminary Teacher Training class. While Jon enjoyed the class it quickly became apparent to him that being a Seminary teacher wasn't what he wanted to do (there was no way he'd be able to wear a suit and tie every day). Me on the other hand, I was enthralled. I discovered that I LOVED teaching, and that I was really good at it. When the class ended I signed up for the second Seminary teaching class and loved that one as well. I got to do two weeks of student teaching in a Jr. High and absolutely loved it. I couldn't think of anything better than having a job where you got PAID to study and teach the scriptures.
The teacher had let us know, early on in the class, that CES's current policy was that they didn't hire women who had school aged children. I could tell he felt really uncomfortable telling us this, but he didn't try to make up any excuses or explain why the policy was like this-- which I appreciated. He simply told us that in the history of CES the policy had changed multiple times, but that right now that is what the policy was-- it was what it was.
This was hard news for me to swallow.
By that time Jon and I were already wanting children, but I'd had some health challenges and a baby wasn't coming as easily as we'd hoped. I didn't know what the future held for me and so I continued with the classes, having faith that if this was the right thing for me to do it would all work out. The process of getting hired as a full-time CES teacher is challenging and lengthy. It requires a year long student teaching in a classroom and an interview with a General Authority. There are hundreds of students who apply for the student teaching positions, and very few who actually get selected for the opportunity to do one. So, when our teacher had us fill out a sheet asking us if we were interested in pursing that path, I filled in the boxes saying "Yes" I wanted to be considered for a student teaching position, but I wasn't really expecting anything to come of it.
The semester ended and Jon and I graduated together. Not long after, Jon and I found out that we were expecting Asher, our first baby. I was thrilled. God had worked a miracle in my heart during the months that I'd struggled to conceive and I knew there was nothing that I could do with my life that was more important than being a mother. It had never been in my life plan, but God had let me know that He wanted me to stay-at-home with my children. This wasn't an easy thing for me to accept. I argued with Him that there were too many things I wanted to do, and that I would be completely wasted if I stayed at home with babies. Yet, even as I argued I felt His firm and gentle reassurance that He knew the desires of my heart and that He would give me opportunities to do everything I dreamed of.
So I trusted Him. I stopped sending in applications to Graduate schools (it helped that I completely bombed the GRE) and started to settle into the idea of being a stay-at-home mom.
A few months after graduation I got a call from my Seminary Training teacher at BYU letting me know that I'd been selected for the year long seminary teaching position. I was thrilled and really wanted to accept the opportunity. Yet, I also knew that I was pregnant and that once I had my son I would no longer be qualified to be considered for a full-time CES position. It didn't seem right to me to accept the opportunity knowing that I wouldn't be hired, when someone else (who really could be hired) might benefit more from the opportunity. I explained this to my teacher and he, very kindly, said he understood and wished me the very best.
I remember hanging up that phone and feeling a strange mixture of sadness and happiness. There was a part of me that was really sad, because I'd just had to pass up a shot at my dream job because I was pregnant. I knew that a chance like the one I'd just turned down didn't come around very often. Yet, there was a part of me that was happy because I knew-- deep deep in my soul-- that I was suppose to stay home with my children and that home was were God wanted and needed me.
It wasn't long after I passed up the Seminary teaching job that I got the prompting and inspiration to start this blog about the women in the scriptures. I felt inadequate to tackle such a huge topic, but I'd learned in my Seminary teaching classes that I was good at teaching. I figured I could just teach online what I'd learned in my personal scripture study and bear my testimony, just like I would have in a real class. This blog started out really small and simple, but has grown into something I never ever dreamed it would. I have "met" people from all over the world, have seen my words change and influence people, and have gained insights and knowledge that I know came directly from Heavenly Father. The Lord has done more with me than I ever imagined he would, and it has been incredible.
But as I read through that news article tonight there was a part of me crying and questioning, "But couldn't I have had them both?" I feel a bit like I did when I heard the news about the missionary age being lowered, sad for what could have been, but happy that other women will have opportunities I didn't get.
But then, I think about where my life has taken me and I wouldn't trade it for anything. The Lord knew the desires of my heart and made them happen in a way much better than I could have ever dreamed. He knew what I wanted better than I knew what I wanted.
But do you know the best part?
I moved to Iowa and got called to teach Seminary. When I got the phone call from the High Councilman extending the call I was speechless, literally. After I hung up the phone I just sat on my bed stunned, and felt a wave of the spirit sweep over me, like God was saying "See, didn't I tell you?" Receiving that calling felt like a great big giant hug from my Heavenly Father; a testament to me that He knew the sacrifices I had made to do what He said. A testament to me that He knew my heart, that He cared about my dreams, and He would make them come true.
I know that God is aware of each of us. Even in the times when things don't seem fair, or life doesn't turn out how we imagined, I just want you to know that He sees you. He hears your prayers and knows the desires of your heart and, often in ways you never dreamed of, He will make them happen... promise.