When In Doubt…

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8th grade was a tough year for me. Who am I kidding, isn’t all of middle school tough? I was attending a small Catholic school, in which by the grace of God I was not kicked out of (for mass producing the answers to a take home test in exchange for goods…no joke, I’ll elaborate another time). School let out in May and I ran out of those doors, never to return. While I loved my friends (and even some teachers) there, I wasn’t on board with what they were teaching. I didn’t have much of a spiritual upbringing, aside from a Precious Moments bible that had some cool pictures and a collection of prayer cards my great aunt had given me. I didn’t want to be cornered into believing anything, and I’d argue anyone who tried to convince me otherwise, including my teachers. Not to mention, they had already suspended me from a church service or two from my behavior. They did, however, allow me to go through Confirmation. On the morning of my Confirmation, I begged my mom to let me stay home. She bribed me with a necklace and a nice meal afterwards. We went with the understanding that I wouldn’t have to go to church again after that day. 

Shortly after school let out, I packed my bags and headed to my favorite place in the world, Buffalo, NY. I had lived there until I was 7, and was not at all bitter over the fact that my parents had dragged me down south (ok, maybe a little bitter). I spent a few weeks there every summer there visiting with friends and family and eating as much food as my body could handle, while enjoying the cool weather.  Continue reading “When In Doubt…”

Ministry Through Rejection

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I love my job. No really, I usually say that with no hint of sarcasm at least once a week.

I love the good parts.

When students call and tell you about their wins in life. When you notice that a student wrote the notes from a message you gave a year ago on her mirror. When a student comes straight to your office or texts you after his first day of school because someone asked him about camp. Those days are the best.

I love the bad parts too, though. The days where I have no idea how I got here, or why God picked me to work with what seems like the most difficult age you could go through. Days where I have to be reminded that it’s a calling, not a curse. Because those are the days I feel God leaning in the most. Those are the days that I have faith that He is bigger than the struggles that we face every season in ministry.

The deaths. The tears. The hormones and ever changing attitudes from “I think you’re the coolest” to “ew, get away from me”. Somewhere, sometimes, I see God in that.

There is a part I struggle with, though. It’s the part that can keep me up at night if I’m not careful.

It’s the chances that we don’t get to do ministry.

Sometimes we don’t want to have someone walk alongside us. Sometimes ministry can seem annoying and unwanted. Sometimes we would just rather do it alone.

When I was 19, I left the church for 10 months. I can tell you the exact day I walked out and the day I was ready to return. I was unreachable in that time in between. Phone calls would go straight to voicemail and texts would go unanswered. Sure, I was still a Christian. I thought Jesus was great, but the people were so unappealing. Everything they stood for, I just couldn’t figure out if I stood there with them.

I wanted no part of the Church. I wanted to run as far away as I could. So I did. I put my bible on a table where it sat for so long that the back part of it became one with the surface. I am now reminded of that season every time I turn my bible over and notice the leather that’s missing.

I was not the first person to reject ministry. My friends that loved me and reached out never gave up. They gave me space, and they were there the day I came back, with open arms.

I constantly need a reminder to stand there and wait. To know when to be silent and when to step in. To wait patiently for the day that the person who doesn’t want you there today, may need you tomorrow.

Rejection hurts. There’s always part of me that wonders what I could have done better, if anything at all. But then there’s always a part of me that remembers that season seven years ago, where I just wanted to walk alone for a while.

It’s a dark and lonely place. I would never advise you to go there and camp out for longer than a day. And if you’re not careful, it can be dangerous. But more often times than not, there’s someone waiting on the other side for you to come back.