several months ago, after the birth of our twins, I was in a bit of a funk. The writing seemed to be on the wall: my days as a Catholic school teacher were likely numbered. One of the great ironies of Catholic education is that a teacher’s salary can’t put that teacher’s kids through Catholic school. So a primary breadwinner like myself had a choice to make: do I continue to stay in the classroom and gradually lose ground financially, or re-tool and start off on a new career path at the not-so-tender age of 32?
The last year or so has been challenging as I wrestled with that question. I began to flail about, seeking for answers, a way out of our predicament. Our family was financially stable, but the forecast a few years out didn’t look promising. Once the thought of a career change entered my head, however, I panicked (inside, anyway!) and felt a little desperate. It was my wife–my good, holy, praying wife–who brought me back down to earth.
We were looking over our budget one night in November. She could tell I was agitated, anxious about the future. She looked at me calmly and said, “We have time. We are doing just fine. We just need to make a plan.”
I took that thought to prayer, and over the course of a few days, everything became clear to me; I had been making plans in despair. My chief thought had been, “We are on the brink of some kind of disaster” [not true!]. I’m convinced now that that sort of anxiety was definitely not of God. So, how to proceed? One again, my wife came to the rescue. When I was preparing for informational interviews in various fields, she told me, “Be confident. Most of all, be honest.” That commitment to confidence and honesty, which she so sagely suggested, steered me away from despair and anxiety and toward something quite different–hope.
As the months progressed, and my informational interviews, research, and preparation turned into true job seeking, it actually became fun. I had time, I had resources, and there was no rush. It wasn’t a desperate situation, but a chance to hope–to look to the future, confident in God’s mercy and love. And what a blessing the transition has been!
After this experience, I explore my anxieties when they surface. Is this my conscience, warning me against evil? I think. Or is this a useless kind of worrying, which paralyzes me? The first comes from God…the second certainly does not!