A Window When The Doors Are All Closed

by Kylee Shields

I have wanderlust and ADHD and so I struggle with staying in one place and doing one thing. As a result I struggled many times in my life to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even when I graduated from BYU with a degree in English and Linguistics I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be and do. I was raised in a family (thankfully!) where we grew up as kids who were “jack of all trades–king of none.” In other words I loved doing everything and was never really good at anything one thing.

While serving my mission something amazing happened to me. I realized I was really good at something. I was good at memorizing scriptures, finding principles, outlining lessons, and making connections. I discovered my passion for teaching the gospel! As a result when I went back to BYU in my last year (b/c I fought the idea) I took the two semesters of Seminary Teaching Classes.

It was here that I felt the heavy burden of inequality but not just me as a female. We were told that most likely none of us would become seminary teachers. We were told that males who were married by the time they were up for hire, would not be hired. I was told that if I was actually (by some miracle) hired that as soon as I had a child I would have to quit my job. Even with all this negativity I felt the spirit very strong and confirming that this is what I was meant to do.

So I began my student teaching and I LOVED it! I loved my students and they loved me. I made a point to raise the bar in my classes and expected the kids to reach it. They did and then some and I saw miracles in my classes and in my students lives. The thing I didn’t see was the male leaders who were suppose to be coming in to see my teaching and evaluate me.

I watched as they came on a regular basis to the male teacher in my same seminary building who was up for hire and engaged. And half way through my year I was told that I would most likely not get hired so if I wanted to quit that would be okay. I chose to finish out the year for my students. I wasn’t visited again. I was actually teaching full time at this point b/c two of the teachers had health issues so I taken on their classes. The Seminary Principal believed in me, my students loved me, and I felt the support of the Lord and the spirit. Yet, I wasn’t hired. I know that there are a gazillion teachers up for hire each year and the likely hood that I would get hired was a shot in the dark but I
wanted my shot. I wanted an equal chance to show my love and passion for teaching. I was devastated by my unequal treatment and failure.

I was confused by the spirit’s assurance and the contradictory knowledge that certain men had power over my ability to do what I love and was good at!

I actually tried again in Boston while teaching early morning seminary to 11 dedicated LDS kids from 7 different high schools. I was made promises by males in power that they would come out and evaluate my teaching. Again they never came. I realized I didn’t have the stamina to fight this losing battle and I stashed my teaching files far away in the back of the storage unit my family owns.

Then I battled. I wrestled with the Lord, I talked to everyone I knew, I made lists, etc.  I did anything I could think and even some things others thought of to figure out what to do with my life. I was so angry!

Slowly over time the Lord opened a window where He had closed all the doors and I discovered that while I may not be able to teach the gospel to kids I could find ways to work with them. Besides, I had always had an affinity for the punk kids anyway. Through much prayer, fasting, schooling, frustration, heartache, and joy I became a child and adolescent therapist! I love what I do, I love listening to broken kids, I love being a part of the process of change in their lives, and in a small way, I love helping them know they are loved!

Men in power may have kept me from being a seminary teacher but they couldn’t keep me from teaching the gospel (I’m currently a sunday school teacher) or working with adolescent kids. The Lord and I found a new path, a new plan, and a new found faith!