Free to Visit but Not Participate
Free from packing today; we’re in a stage where what we need to pack is what we need while we stay in the house. So this morning I decided to bake some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and drop by the school where I taught seventh grade English and History for twenty years. School, the world where I always feel I belong, where I’m comfortable and at ease. I know what to do and how to do it.
The counselor, Beth, both loved and hated my 365-day-a-year Christmas countdown. And even though I made her a year long calendar counting down the days until Christmas (Today? 130 days until Christmas. Share the joy!) I wanted to give her a small token of my love and appreciation of her and her support of me through joy and sorrow, success and failure. The small Christmas ornament said Joy, which I knew would remind her of her silly friend. I wrote a note on the back,
Free to Listen
I planned my visit to coincide with lunch so I could say a last goodbye to colleagues. Sure enough, as I swung into the parking lot, someone pulled out, on their way to lunch.
Out of habit, I walked through the staff door. But immediately, I saw differences. Usually, when I walked into the office, Joanne greeted me. Like me, she retired in June, so someone I didn’t recognize sat in Joanne’s chair. I must have looked like I belonged, because she didn’t question who I was or why a person she didn’t know came through the staff door. I smiled at her, and stopped at Judy’s desk. We chatted, catching up on family and summer. Again, I realized changes. Instead of worrying about all I needed to accomplish in a precious 40 minute lunch period, I gave Judy my full attention, listening without watching the clock.
Done chatting, I walked past the teacher mailboxes. My eyes automatically flitted to the middle of the rows. Oh, I thought, I don’t have to check my box. I don’t even have a box!”
I opened the lunchroom door. A chorus of hellos, how are you? greeted me. Hugs. Gratitude for the cookies. I settled into my chair and listened to the conversations. Getting ready for back-to-school night. Learning names of students. Juggling family and work. All of it made sense. None of it applied to me.
I was in this world of school. Comfortable. Familiar. I could empathize. Listen. But I didn’t belong here anymore. Retirement set me free to spend my time differently
Now, instead of racing out the door, answering the same questions over and over, I drink another cup of coffee. My time with God doesn’t get cut short. In the quiet of my offie, I listen to His voice while He speaks to me through His Word. He reminds me of how truly free I am. Free of the wages of sin and death (Romans 6:23).
Just like I’m free from the fetters of school, I can walk by the things of the world. I don’t have to stop by the things that weigh me down, keep me from peace and joy. I can listen for His voice and follow Him.
Of course, this didn’t happen at retirement. Freedom comes the minute Jesus becomes Lord of our lives. Walking in this world I knew, but no longer tied to the demands of teaching, reminded me because the Son set me free and I am free indeed (John 8:36).
Linking with Porch Stories, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, Heart Encouragement, Tune-in Thursday, Salt and Light Grace and Truth, Faith of Fire, Dance with Jesus, Fresh Market Friday, Counting My Blessings