For seven years, I knew my vocation was teaching. In seventh grade, I had an epiphany while eating dinner at Olive Garden with my mom. I thought about all the teachers whom I respected and loved and knew in the fibers of my bones that I was meant to carry on their legacy. For the next seven years, I devoted myself to preparing for the extreme hospitality of carrying for someone’s child as your own. I tutored a middle schooler with learning disabilities from 3:00 in the afternoon to 8:00 at night Monday through Friday. I got a job working in an elementary school library. I took classes at my high school about early childhood education and then dual-enrolled my senior year so that I could take college-level education courses and log practicum hours. I read books. I observed teachers. I interviewed teachers. I created a dozen Pinterest boards with lesson plans. I was sure.

I can’t remember if I ever asked God if what I was doing was what He wanted. I think I felt that it was unnecessary, for how right it felt, how passionate I was.

Since I didn’t ask Him, He decided to tell me.

I was almost done with my first year at Flagler. I had completed two education courses with top grades. On the outside, I was perfectly content and put together. On the inside, seeds of doubt and anxiety were beginning to take root. I hushed them for as long as I could because they didn’t make sense. I still wanted to be a teacher, so why did I dread registering for classes, knowing that my schedule would be entirely filled with education classes? I still loved children. I still wanted to make a difference. What was wrong with me?

That summer, the summer after my freshman year, I studied abroad in Ireland through the history department. I had always said I could never imagine doing anything but teaching, but in Ireland, surrounded by history students and professor, I could. I saw myself as a historian, a researcher, a writer, an educator without a classroom. And I was terrified.

The first day back at Flagler in the fall, I told the Holy Spirit, if I am not meant to be an education major, when I step into my education class, flood me with anxiety.

If you honestly ask God for a clear sign, He’ll deliver.

I didn’t even stay for the class. I went straight to the registrar and changed my major to history.

I don’t mean to make it sound like it was an easy thing to do. No. I was heartbroken. I was crushed.

I was instantaneously happier to be in history classes, where I flourished. But inside, I thought God had pulled me away from teaching because I was not good enough to be a teacher. I felt inferior to my education-major friends, and I drew away from them.

Listen to what Acts 16:6-7 says:

“[Paul and Silas] went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.

When I read that passage, I felt the same shock and disbelief I felt when I knew for sure I had to leave the education department. Why? I asked. Actually, I texted Derrick, “what the heck. how? why?”

Why would God tell someone not to do something that is good? At first, I thought it was Paul being a coward or a sloth. Like, get your butt over to Asia, Paul. Don’t use the Holy Spirit as an excuse. That was petty of me.

Why? Because Paul was not ready. The timing was not right.

How do I know? Because Acts 19:10 says, “This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of God.”

God brought His word through Paul to Asia via a route that Paul had not seen.

I don’t know if in three chapters, my story will be set in a classroom full of hormonal middle schoolers and I’ll be wondering why I ever wanted this. A part of me still hopes so. We cannot see the end of the road, but with God’s guidance, He will show us the next bend.

Consider: where is your Asia? Where do you want to be that God is saying “not yet?” For me, somedays, it’s marriage and motherhood and master’s degrees. Am I ready for those things? No! Do I want them? Obviously. We humans often want for what we are not ready.

Don’t underestimate what God is doing in your season of waiting. The dream house or job or family is probably in your story, but you’re not there yet. And where you are now is necessary to getting there.

As a historian, I am growing as an individual and a scholar. With this degree, if I end up a teacher, I will be wiser and more experienced leader for my students. At the very least, I can be an example of someone who did not follow the expected and pressured plan but thrived anyway. I can tell them, “I followed God’s plan, and it led me to you.” And I’m sure (I’ve asked God!) they’re going to be worth waiting for.

Ana Maeve O'Donnell
Flagler Intern

October 30, 2017