Making the Right Choice

(The following was written on Oct. 25, 2015, but has not been previously published)

It was the end of May 1957.  I was only 17, a few weeks before my 18th birthday.  School had ended and I had graduated from High School. My intention was to begin college in the fall to pursue a degree in electrical engineering, the profession my father had planned for me.  Dad’s intentions were good.  He only wanted me to complete college and be able to make a better living for myself than he had with his limited eighth grade education.  Somehow, in my heart I knew electrical engineering was not really my passion.  Nevertheless, I enrolled in junior college that fall and took only math and science courses that first year.

Shortly after school started that fall, I came to know Jesus Christ in a very personal way.  Although I had gone to church with my mother as a boy, I never really had such an encounter with God.  In the days ahead it became more and more clear to me that He was speaking to a very Man Reading Bibledifferent place in my heart regarding my professional plans. Although I loved my college physics class, college level mathematics was much harder than I expected and I began to realize that my heart was not in theoretical studies.

At my little church, I had been asked to teach a group of junior high school boys.  I had never been around kids that much younger than me, so I was skeptical.  But as I got to know the boys (there were only about 4) I realized that I really enjoyed being with them.  God began showing me He was calling me to work with children.

The next year I enrolled in courses I would have never considered before:  introduction to education and psychology.  It only took me a few weeks to realize that for the first time in my life my heart was really happy and at peace. I had decided that I wanted to teach in elementary school. Needless to say, Dad was not pleased.

“Why do you want to teach little kids?  That’s no kind of profession for a man!” my dad was incensed.  “How do you expect to raise a family on a teacher’s salary?”

I finished junior college and went on to the state teachers’ college to finish my degree.  In the spring of 1961 I finished my degree program and started teaching fifth grade in the fall.  Although Dad was still disappointed that I didn’t pursue electrical engineering, he was proud that all three of his children had graduated from college.

When I retired years later I wondered what my life would have been like if I had not followed my heart.  Would I have finished college?  Would I have been successful as an electrical engineer?  Teaching young children was not considered by most men to be a “manly” pursuit.  But God gave me 34 years of joy doing what He had etched on my heart when I was still a teenager.

—————

How many men truly follow their hearts and choose a profession that allows them to express who they really are?  How many choose to spend a lifetime trying to fulfill the dreams of their fathers?  How many choose those professions that allow them to further isolate themselves from people because they are afraid of exposing their hearts or opening up places of pain in their lives they are unwilling to face?

 

 

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