If I’m being honest, I have to say that I didn’t spend a lot of my time early in life thinking about or caring about what God had planned for me. I was distracted and selfish and driven to do only what I wanted to do. I didn’t have a real relationship with God, so I never asked Him what He wanted for me, what He had dreamed up before I was born. I was too busy trying to pass myself off as a strong, successful somebody, and all those truths, the ones that matter, were easy to ignore.
“How confused you are about your life,” God whispered to me, so many times I’m sure. I didn’t hear him. I was too busy listening to what this world had to tell me.
“You are on a path to a place far away from where I want you,” He continued. “You’re running toward a place where the seed I planted in you cannot grow. You think you know better than I do. You think I don’t exist. Just wait. I will reveal myself to you in a way that will be sure to get your attention.”
And He did. Eight years ago, God put something in my way that was impossible for someone like me to ignore. When I talk about it, I tell people it was a “violent shove,” and it was. Cancer. Metastasized cancer. Neck. Throat. Chest. Brain stem. That was eight years ago. I was 26.
I never expected to be told I had cancer. I don’t think I can effectively express how devastating this news was for someone like me. I won’t even try, except to say that everything ached. Places the cancer was and places it wasn’t. My entire body ached, under the weight of the news and what I thought was a life that was over. I was lost and confused. How could this be happening? Am I going to die? Oh God, I’m going to die.
Then I felt a little tap. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was God. There was that violent shove, then that gentle tap. “This happened because what you’re doing is not what I had planned for you,” He said. “You are supposed to be doing something else. So, welcome to your life: your real one, the one that’s lived with me by your side. Grab hold of that life and see what happens.”
I can’t really explain why I knew in the days after my first diagnosis that God was telling me to become a teacher. I just knew. I was laid up in bed, and I had time to think about what I was really doing on this earth. I decided I wouldn’t waste any more time doing something out of alignment with His plan and purpose for me. I honestly didn’t think I had that much time. It was cancer. It had spread, and we didn’t exactly catch it early.
I enrolled in a teaching program and was in the classroom the following year. I’ve spent the last eight years of my life planning and prepping lessons, searching for tools and resources, stories and poetry that would touch my students’ hearts and minds in such a way that they would find value in the time we spent together and take these lessons with them into new adventures. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this job, these kids, this work. I’ve done the absolute best I could do for eight years.
And now, it’s over.
June 10 was my last day of work as a teacher. No students. Their last day was June 8, and I had two days without them to pack up my classroom and say goodbye. I spent the day mostly alone, cleaning shelves, stacking chairs, and loading the last eight years of my school life into a box. Well, a few boxes. I had a lot of stuff in there.
I quit. I quit because there’s something new that He’s asked me to do. He’s asked me to step out in faith and pursue a new calling. I know it’s a calling because my body experiences that very same aching I felt eight years ago when I got sick, only now it’s for a different reason. That aching for me happens when I think about the next generation of girls: a generation of girls who are suffering and breaking under the weight of this world. A generation of girls who are unable to step into the life that God has planned for them; they can’t do it because they’re distracted, like I was, by this world’s jacked up definition of beauty and success. We need to help them realize the truth sooner, before the lies the world tells them creep in and do their damage. It’s time to do something about it.
So I quit, because God is calling me to spend the rest of my time here doing something about it. I don’t know what’s on the other side of this decision, but I know who’s on the other side of it. He is, God is, and I’m stepping out because He’s asked me to step out.
I quit. I’m ready. Let’s do this.
Thank you for sharing where you’ve been & how it led to your decision to quit & reroute from classroom teaching as of June 10th.
You are still teaching ~ often guiding & validating ~ in your newly hewn path.
The essence of its mission is so simple, yet profound… that is why it resonates so easily and completely with me (and obviously so many others.)
Peace ~ HJSF
Heather Fitzgerald on
RUE, to quit the fleshly selfish life, and grab ahold of JESUS CHRIST??? Stepping out in faith is something that is difficult for me to do, but day by day, I am learning to.., taking those baby steps., praying that you will continue to have HIS strength, courage and wisdom…
Gigi wentz on
Hi, Erin! Good for you!! What a way to be obedient to His calling for you! (You’re living out one of my favorite verses — Proverbs 16:3!) I can’t wait to see what He has in store for your next chapter!
I was finally able to give your books to my granddaughter, Kendal, yesterday and she loves them! Her mother explained to her how special it is to have the author’s autograph in a book and her eyes sparkled!
I read the book of Hannah to Kendal, five, and her brother, EJ, three, and they loved it. They both made comments throughout my reading and that really blessed my heart!
I look forward to your next books!
Are you considering writing books for little boys as well? I hope so! EJ would love having his own special books with the autograph. :)
May God continue to guide you and give you the discernment you need to follow Him!
In His Service,
“Commit yourself to the Lord and He will establish your plans.” — Proverbs 16:3
Diana Sullivan on
Amazing! You are truly a woman of strength and character. To change your life around like that in the midst of hardship and unknown and truly trust His plan for you is admirable. I just came across your books the other day and even though my daughter is not quite ready for them yet, I still plan to pick up the two and a couple more for the rest of the girls in my family when I can.
What an incredible story and testament to an ever amazing God. Thank you for sharing! God is great. Have a blessed evening.
This is fabulous. My daughter is a serious softball player. At 15 years old she is under the stress of choosing a college, a career, relocating. As her parents we want the best for her and feel the pressure too. We push her to work harder in school, in softball, in life. The weight of this is crushing us and life is not fun. Erin is so right. We should be asking where does God want her to go to college or does he even want her to go? What if God says that we’ve had enough softball and He has different plans for my daughter? Thank you Erin for pointing this out. We need to stop and let God take the lead. Our ‘goals’ are not the important ones if they are not in God’s plan.