When Life as You Know It Is Dying

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I seem to be living the tail end of a dying life. According to the statistics, I am not the only one. I am not the only teacher who woke up one day and realized she could not possibly continue at the speed of the classroom with the course set to testing. It was killing her. So it was the only career I have ever known, or myself. I chose me. I chose to let myself live, but my career had to die. I am not the only one making this choice. More articles and think pieces than I know about have been written about the state of education, the rate at which the teachers are leaving the classrooms. My first chosen profession is dying, is changing, is not what it was when I went to school to do it.

Perhaps unsustainable, or maybe just run its course, my life as I know it is dying. 

I am trying to finish well. To honor the dying embers of my classroom life as I look to the next season. The next season will be on us in a matter of months, and I still don’t know what that will look like. It isn’t lost on me that the things I am longing to do, the professional mantels I hope to try on are in places people keep saying are dying. 

I want to be a writer, to hold my own books in my hand and travel to talk about those books, to talk about the words and what they might mean to me and to others. I want to have space and time to wrestle with the constant stream in my head, not stolen moments at three a.m. when I can’t sleep anyway, or two more sentences while my kids whine that they are starving and when am I going to get them a snack. But one Google search of the publishing industry tells me that this is perhaps a dream a few decades old. The publishing industry, some say, is dying. And even as I sign with an agent and adjust my book proposal to the market, there is a place in me that wonders if all this talk about dying is true. Is this all for naught? Have I jumped from one sinking ship to another?

I am thinking about ministry. Not just thinking about it, I was accepted into the seminary of my choice and am preparing to start classes in the fall. I am sure you know where this is going. I don’t even have to Google search it. Voices are shouting about the state of the American church. They tell me the church is dying, right as I am ready to go all in. 

Everywhere I run, I am headed toward dying things. Everything that I think I might love to do, people are warning me those things are dying. On my worst days, I am terrified. The slow dying of the classroom teacher has drained me. I feel myself walking around exhausted, half as much blood pumping through me as a person should really have. I feel the gasping for breath, the slowing of thought as I realize there isn’t enough oxygen to sustain me. 

What if I really am headed to the next dying dream? What if what I want is on its last breaths too?

I think I wait. I think I sit. I think I stop being so afraid of the dying, and patiently watch the dying run its course. Why, I sometimes wonder, is a church built on resurrection so afraid of dying? If I’m a person who believes in resurrection dying means I’m just getting to the good part.

So yes, my life as I know it is dying. It is scary and painful and often much more than I can bear. But I don’t think the dying is the end. I am waiting patiently by this tomb. I believe I will witness resurrection.

Abby Norman

Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words.She believes in champagne for celebrating every day life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then.

Latest posts by Abby Norman (see all)

  • Abby, I understand how you feel more than you know. The dream that God has placed in our hearts that we are following hard after – it means a lot of death, too. I sat in a panel at the Festival listening to people say there is no place anymore for blogs (my blog is a year old and I love this little part of the internet I get to write on). I too want to hold those books in my hand and know I am even years further away from that than you (have I lost my chance?) and then there were the people saying the ministry we find ourselves launching into is dying, too. Thank you for these words. I haven’t been able to place the unease I feel pressing into dreams that others don’t believe in but I do with all my heart. Keep believing! We serve a God of new life. Thank you for this encouragement today.

  • Jean

    Amen.

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Abby I am a ‘retired’ elementary teacher (24 years in the classroom, on my 3rd year of guest teaching) and I, too, can wax eloquent on the awful state of public education in this country. It makes me fussy, to say the least. However, guest teaching is a perk I can handle because I’m not married to the tasks. Classroom teachers such as yourself do have a decision to make about jumping ship or sailing their own.
    As to your own ship, writing is a gift and calling from God, but the tricky part is knowing how and where our voice is needed. As a blogger (in my 5th year) I am continuing to fine tune and hone my calling.
    The only way I’ve survived is to ignore all the experts and listen to the voice of Jesus alone. I’m guessing you will find the same very soon. Encouragement online and in person will never ‘die’; that’s why we need to keep sharing what and when and where God tells us.
    Thank you for writing this honest post.

  • Yes the dying gets us to a good part. Thank you Abby.

  • pastordt

    Everything dies. It just does. It’s part of the cycle, the rhythm. And then . . . the rebirth. Morphing, changing, transforming. Praying you’ll see signs of that soon, Abby.

  • pameladayton

    I started seminary in February. The church is changing, it’s true. But our God is constant and is already resurrected and is very busy. Our Sister Julian of Norwich was right: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

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  • “But I don’t think the dying is the end. I am waiting patiently by this tomb. I believe I will witness resurrection.” I’m with you, Abby. So often we fear the dying, but resurrection can only come after death, right? Some of my dreams have died, my past life is only a memory, but my present is now and there are so many other dreams. Some of them will probably die, too, but there is still the future and I press on until I see my next step. Blessings to you!