By Nona Simons
This report describes what it is like for me to be on a teaching team and illustrates how to teach and deal with life challenges at the same time. Here is my narrative:
Another thing I do as part of a teaching team, which I think is important, is to work on myself. For this, I work a 12-step program and have a therapist, as you know. I am also working on what makes me happy and how to be doing God’s will every day in all that I do. I don’t always remember to reach out to God throughout the day, but I am slowly improving in this area one day, one baby step at a time.
I am still learning about what God’s will is for me. I ask myself, if I am happy in what I am doing, is that God’s will. I have heard if a neat, miraculous event has occurred after you acted on what you believe is God’s will, then you were probably doing it. With me, it has been artwork and social action. At one point, I started working part-time and it did not leave me any time for Facebook activity or artwork. I had become very sad. I decided to cut back my hours, and guess what? I started to be happier.
The other day, when saying my morning prayers, I told God that I really wanted to do His will. Then I spent most of the day on Facebook, and was chiding myself, asking if I was being an addict. Then a breakthrough came with one of my 12-step friends who has moved out of state, across the country. I had sent her and a bunch of other friends a Christmas greeting, and like the card site said, entered everyone’s name. I thought each person would get an individual message. Well…..I got a text from this friend that said she found a bunch of names on her XMAS message, she didn’t know who they were, and this made her very uncomfortable. I messaged back immediately that I apologized and did not know that everyone who got the card would see the names of everyone else that got the card! I told her not to worry about these people; they were my friends and good people who would not do anything bad. She responded with a message, saying that she appreciated this information. I sent her a message back telling her that I admired her honesty, discernment, ability to be open minded, and that I loved her. She messaged me back, saying “I love you Nona.” I had never just how much she loved me until I got this message from her! Furthermore, the other card recipients ended up on this message string as well! Several posted comments about how much they loved me, how much our on-line friendship meant to them. It was a comforting and humbling experience. Furthermore, the friend I mentioned earlier has now been more intimately exposed to a bunch of my friends, several of whom are Baha’is. She probably has or will see many of my Baha’i posts.
I keep thinking Wow! If I hadn’t spent so much time on Facebook, this never would have happened! Perhaps I was doing God’s will after all and this good development confirmed that! I felt joyful then and the next day remained feeling joyful. God was doing for us what we could not do for ourselves!
This sort of thing has happened on several other occasions when being involved with my Facebook social action project and Teaching Team Partner and I think this is a direct result of our team teaching efforts. Furthermore, I was still facing many life challenges. I describe these, as follows, because the challenges have been continuing throughout my teaching team experience:
My husband’s left foot was amputated 4 years ago and we are still dealing with major issues related to that; his illness after the amputation has lingered on for a long time and he is not able to do as much as he used to do; at one point he was unemployed and depressed. As a result we lost what was left of our savings and were unable to pay all our bills. That started a few months after the amputation.
During this time, my husband went into a deep depression that is better now but still can rear its ugly head. About a year or two ago, we couldn’t pay our mortgage for several months and ended up in foreclosure. I had to do a bunch of paperwork for both the mortgage company and a state agency that helps people who are behind in their house payments. They loaned us $10,000 to pay the mortgage debt. We thought we could make the mortgage payments as work came in, but my husband still had limited energy and it affected his productivity.
We ended up in foreclosure a second time. This time we decided we wanted to sell the house but didn’t tell the mortgage company that. Somehow we qualified for a loan modification and are now past a 3 month trial period and have money coming in that just about covers our bills. Re bills; don’t ask; I am constantly juggling times with service providers to deal with our money coming in late, making the payment late! Then I had some health problems on top of that, causing a lot of fatigue. I hate to tell you how messy my house is because of this! And we can’t afford a house keeper. We are learning to live as low-income people which is not always very much fun.
However, I did not give up my teaching team calls and goals. I was less efficient when I was working, but not defeated by the situation. I am now getting back on schedule with my Baha’i work as I wade through the pile of obligations and work I still have to do. This is what my teaching team partner means about teaching through problems; you deal with the problems, get the expert help you need, and you continue to teach and reach out to God. I also practice gratitude and do a gratitude list every day.
This teaching effort has changed my life in many ways. I have finally found out what I want to do as a second career as a result of my Facebook activity. As part of a Facebook social action group called Safe World for Women, I am learning about how I can be of help low income people. I plan to go back to school to get a master’s degree in community organizing/social sciences individual major. That is a huge change. I even have a big dream: I want to start an arts and crafts co-op with low-income women. Hopefully we will sell upscaled and/or hand painted clothing. The women will decide, as a group, on what each person will do and what the co-op will be selling. I can be a facilitator and instruct the women in how to do certain things. This dream gives me a goal to systematically work for and I am in the early stages of that process now! My teaching team partner has been one of my biggest supporters and it would be much harder to pursue this goal if it weren’t for her input.
Furthermore, due to Facebook teaching, I have made friends from all over the world. I am also a strong supporter of women who teach girls in unfriendly places like Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries. I met these people through an organization that sponsors SED’s and Facebook promotion of good causes, called Safe World for Women. Safe World for Women is an NGO, that has received awards for its good works. It is non-political and strongly advocates for human rights, especially for women. My community of interest now involves many people who are part of the Safe World for Women network. Facebook has also enabled me to get to know many of my husband’s professional colleagues who I had never previously had a chance to meet. Several of these colleagues have responded positively to Bahá’í quotes that I have used in my Facebook posts! So far, I have not had a planned Bahá’í meeting with these people, but they are slowly being prepared for such an eventuality not only by me, but also by Dwight.