Today is the day! In less than two hours I will clock in at my new job! I am excited, and nervous! I’ve probably felt this way every time I have started a new job — and I’ve had plenty of them! I’ve worked everywhere from a dress shop to McDonald’s to summer camp to pubic schools to day care centers to residential facilities. I like to work. I also like change. So, why am I nervous? I have been thinking it’s because I don’t know how my body will handle the demands of consistent work after eight months or so of concentrating on improving my health. But I got up this morning, had the parade of beverages, read my devotion and realized that this is an opportunity I haven’t had in a while. Now I’m a little more nervous than I was before!
Since 2005 I have been working at a Christian high school. Almost all of my colleagues were Christian, and the majority of our students were, too! In fact, daily prayer with our students was encouraged, each day started with a devotion read over the public address system, every day included twenty minutes for a chapel service or devotion, and issues of faith were freely discussed in our classrooms. Our Christian beliefs were on display at every turn.
What a blessing, right? Right! It was an incredible privilege to work in an environment that was supportive of my faith and in which I could freely share my faith with my students. However, it was also a bit of a safety zone. My students and I, I believe, took this for granted. It was a given. We started most conversations on an even and familiar playing field. We knew, to some degree at least, where the other was coming from. Conflicts were in the minutiae, not in the big ticket items. Parents counted on that; so did we.
Here in Ann Arbor, which is, as a whole, a very diverse environment, we sit on a small Christian college campus that is very similar to the high school environment where I taught. The majority of employees/faculty/staff are Christian and I would say that more than half of the students are, too. So, again, we are operating in a somewhat predictable environment.
My tutoring experiences have allowed me to interact with students from a variety of backgrounds for one hour at a time. In the one hour that we are bent over my students’ school work or writing we spend very little time on personal matters–we joke a little, talk about sports, or share our plans for the weekend. We don’t often have time for deeper conversations. But today — today I enter an unknown environment.
I have been in the office once. Situated on the second floor of an office building on the south side of Ann Arbor, the learning center is very professional. All employees are in business attire (khakis are only allowed if they ‘appear to be professionally laundered’), students and parents buzz to get in and are greeted at the door by an employee. The waiting room is clean and orderly. The rooms within the office suite are tastefully furnished and impeccably kept.
The employees I interacted with during my two-hour interview were very professional. They taught us a strategy and then practiced it with us, coaching us in the ways that they would coach students. I have no idea how many employees there are. I have no idea what backgrounds they come from. I don’t know what students and parents I will be working with.
I just know who I am.
This morning’s devotion said that when Peter referred to believers in his letter I Peter, he used the word lithos, which is the same word that was used for the stone that was rolled away from the tomb. Beth Moore, in this study, said, “Wouldn’t it be something if our lives became living stones exposing the empty tomb…what if people were convinced we worship a living Savior simply by watching the effervescent life of the Spirit within us?”
What if in this new environment, where we don’t start with morning devotions over the public address, where I don’t attend chapel with my students, where I don’t start every session with prayer, my students and their parents and my coworkers can still see evidence that I “worship a living Savior”. What does that look like?
I don’t know.
So that is my prayer today. My prayer is that I will not be focused on how my physical body is feeling but that I will face each student in front of me as a gift, that I will recognize the awesome opportunity I have been given, and that I will see God working in all of it. Stay tuned.
2 Corinthians 2:14
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.