One night I had a dream. I was walking on the beach with God. The weather was short-sleeve perfect, with a pleasant breeze coming in from the sea. The sun was just beginning to set, lighting the water afire with blazes of lava orange and vibrant shades of pink. Black-purple clouds provided a stunning contrast. Normally, I would be transfixed by such beauty. This experience, however, was anything but normal.
As we walked along the beach, feeling the gritty sand between my toes, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. I had so many questions, yet I wasn’t able to speak. He seemed to understand, just smiling to Himself and looking out to sea, the wind blowing His long silver hair. I kept expecting Him to inform me that my time was limited and ask if I could please hurry. But, that never happened. Finally, I felt a release, a calm that swept through my mind and opened my mouth.
“Father, I need to know something.”
That friendly, knowing smile, a nodding head, “Go ahead.”
“So many people say and agree that ‘the children are our future’. Yet, teachers are treated so poorly. I don’t understand why.”
Nodding again, “So, you feel disrespected?”
After taking a moment to think, “Yes, no. Well, I’m sure everyone does at times. But, it seems to me that we are consistently thought less of for being teachers. It’s frustrating.”
He placed His hands behind His back and looked up into the darkening sky, “Yes, I’m sure it is.”
We continued to walk in silence and I couldn’t help but feel that I’d somehow disappointed Him.
He continued, “Tell me why you’re a teacher.”
I was surprised at the question. I made the mistake of giving the standard teacher answer, “Because I love kids.”
He stopped walking and looked at me intently. I instantly became nervous, my mind whirring like a hummingbird.
I stammered, “A-a-a-nd, I feel that I’m a good teacher. My kids respect me. My work is valuable. I teach children how to read and write and how to interact in society. I-“
A voice as soft as air, “Stop.”
Instantly, I was mute, whether by my choice or His, I don’t know.
“You are a teacher, because I chose you to be. Have you forgotten that? Each of my children were called to a certain line of work, a certain path to follow. Yes, you are all given free reign over your lives. However, most follow their assigned path. You are no exception. You are a teacher, because you were meant to be one.”
Being given a reminder by my Father Himself was almost too much to take. Eventually, I was allowed cohesive thought again.
“But, why are teachers forced to lead such difficult lives? I have two part time jobs so my wife can stay home with our kids, whereas athletes make millions upon millions for playing a game. Why does that happen? I don’t understand.”
“I know you don’t, child. But, let me ask you this. How many of your students dream of becoming one of those millionaire athletes?”
I shook my head, “The majority.”
“How many do you think dream of becoming a teacher?”
Chuckling, “Very few.”
“Why is that, do you think?”
Serious tone, “Probably because they see how hard we work, how many papers we grade, how many meetings we attend, how many kids we have in each class, how many behavior problems we have in each class, and so on.”
“Yet, some children still want to be teachers. Why?”
“I don’t know.”
Firmly, “Yes, you do. When you were in the eighth grade, why did you want to be a teacher?”
“I honestly don’t know. I just felt…a call…I wanted to be like my eighth grade teacher. It didn’t matter how hard he worked. I just wanted to make kids feel like he made us feel.”
“Knowing what you know now, would you still want to teach?”
Instantly, every work experience, good and bad, flashed their way through my memory.
Through tears, “Yes, I would.”
“Then should it matter what you earn, as long as your family is provided for?”
He didn’t wait for the answer He didn’t need.
“The chosen path is never easy. It shouldn’t be. If it was, think how many people would be straying from their path for the wrong reason. You are doing what you were meant to do.”
My eyes opened to a brightened room and a new resolve.
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