I ended my teaching career because I couldn’t hear very well. Teaching a foreign language requires hearing, doesn’t it?
I lost my confidence when my high school students began to whistle. I turned to see who the culprit was; the whistling ceased. I resumed teaching again; the teasing began again.
Even with hearing aids, I couldn’t keep order. I couldn’t hear how well my students were pronouncing the words in Spanish. I couldn’t even convince some parents I knew how to teach.
I resigned ten days into the fall term that year. After a twenty-two year career span.
I couldn’t bear speaking in front of a group anymore.
But now, a couple of years later, I want to speak.
While the fear still exists, God’s voice is stronger than my fear. In spite of losing my hearing, maybe because of it, He plans to use me to encourage other women who struggle with their own challenges.
I’m not old. I’m not deaf. I’m losing my hearing. Yet God has a plan for me. Because of that, I’m willing to take the podium and share my Christian testimony.
I’m going to talk about faith. My faith. Our common faith. Faith in the context of climbing Fuji-san, the most famous mountain in Japan. It’s a mountain the young and old alike climb at least once in their lifetime.
Climbers start at Station 5. With a broad base, at first I joked and laughed thinking that it would be almost effortless. Just a question of endurance. By Station 6, I was slowing, and tiring.
For awhile, I concentrated and kept my own pace. I remember seeing the ojii-san (old people) who climbed so sprightly, shouting “Gambatte kudasai!” Do your best! Even when I reached attempted boulders, I was surrounded by laughter and good cheer. And yes, I fell. But there were so many hikers, I couldn’t fall far. Can you believe we had a traffic jam on the mountain?!
I also noticed that what looked beautiful from afar, looked ugly close up.
That’s how it is in life, too.
Close-up, life can look and feel pretty ugly.
Students can tease you. You can lose your confidence and get your pride hurt. A whole career can fall to shambles.
Forget how it appeared going through it. Remember how it felt after. We have to distance ourselves to see the beauty once more.
I dared to experience the sunrise at an altitude of 3, 365 meters (over 12,000 feet, comparable to some of the mountains in Colorado). Even though I had to climb most of Fuji-san in the dark for that to happen. I lifted my foot again and again.
And guess what? I made it!
Photographs and all.
Fuji-san, an eleven-hour climb, challenged me.
It also taught me we are climbing that mountain together. The old and young. Rich and poor. We all encouraged each other in our walk.
I will never forgot that incredible feeling when I saw the photographs of myself against the snow-topped peak.
This lesson stayed with me, and is really expresses what I feel about faith.
God put it on my heart.
He gave me the climbing stick.
Showed me the mountain once more.
And gave me the nudge.
Friends, don’t let fear hold you back from what God has planned for you. Now. Take your climbing stick and continue upward along your faith journey.
© Amy Bovaird, January 2014.