For the first time in my adult life, I did not start the school year before a classroom of children. Instead, I began it in an office full of men.
Welcome to Mars.
At Thanksgiving, the manager grilled a turkey in the warehouse and asked everyone who could to bring sides. There were six crockpots of queso, one untouched veggie tray, and a multitude of very happy men.
At Christmas, they ordered 100 hot wings from Hooters. With no sides. I did not bring a veggie tray that time.
Needless to say, we did not sit around in a teacher's lounge and chat. Working lunches often involved stops in stores that sold trailer hitches and ammunition. The populations in the office was very thin on opening days of dove and deer seasons. I hung a sign over my trash can, "Do not spit in here" after I grew tired of retrieving paperwork that was less than Copenhagen free.
But you know what? I really enjoyed my job. It was wonderful to learn a difficult new skill and do it very well. I handled a multi-million dollar account that had to balance to the penny each month. And it did.
And the pay? Well, let's just say it was more then I would ever make as a teacher even if I hit the top of the scale as a career teacher with several degrees and extra stipends. My commission alone was often twice my teacher salary. While I certainly appreciated that, there were many times that it made me sad that selling computer parts was valued more then teaching children. Much more.
After two years, I began to feel the tug back to the classroom. I liked the job, I liked the men who were my coworkers in Mars and I liked that no one spit in my trash can anymore. But I missed the children and the teaching.
As I was wrestling with the decision to stay or to go, my grandmother became very ill. My co-workers were precious about covering for me so I could come in late or leave early to visit her in the hospital. After a few weeks, my beloved grandmother passed away. My co-workers in Mars all came to the funeral in suits. Even the warehouse crew.
But my path suddenly became clear: life is short. Go with your giftings and passion. Returning to the classroom a few months later was like the very best gift I could possibly give myself. And there was so much healing for me in that decision.
In many ways I feel that I am back at that crossroads again. Knowing that there are going to be some big changes on the horizon that are totally out of my control.
But this I know for sure: God has plans for good; plans that give a future and hope. We never arrive at a change without preparation, because the plan has been in play since the beginning of time. This is not catching God by surprise. He's in charge.
Even in situations that seem as foreign as Mars.