Yesterday, August 17th, marked my one year anniversary from stepping down from youth ministry at our church. I said as much to my wife, who in turn asked me, “And?” (mind you, inflection and tone is lost, so let me just say this was an ‘and’ that was inquiring as to how I felt about it, not the ‘and’ that intones the so what, big deal attitude). I gave her an answer that let her know more by what I didn’t say then the words I expressed.
“I miss it, but…”
Deep. Thoughtful. Full of context. I am an oral wordsmith, right?
That insightful verbiage aside, I have actually been thinking about it a lot in the last few weeks. Apparently not having to go to school 4 nights a week with 12 hours of homework a night gives one time to contemplate. Who knew. But in those moments of stabbing people, hunting animals and plundering the Caribbean sea (been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed IV in my downtime), I’ve had time to reflect (mainly during the loading screens). And I’ve come to discover a few things.
- I miss it. I really, really do. For so many years I was use to going from one kids problem to the next, like Scooby-doo and the gang every week solving a new mystery. (Darn you kids and that stupid dog!) Granted, it really should read, I miss the kids, because that is much more what I miss.
- It was amazing how involved I was one week and almost completely disconnected the next. Granted, it’s kids. They tend to only have time for the things right in front of them, so I don’t blame them or fault them, but it was weird how quick that happened. And because it is the kids that I miss, this one stings a bit from time to time.
- Time does not, in fact, heal all wounds. My choice to step down was my own, and I made it with a clear conscience, however, that being said, there were mitigating factors that lead me to that choice that I have found are really hard to forgive (yep, I’m a Christian, who volunteered in a pastoral role, who struggles with forgiveness). Even a year later, there are times when I still get bitter about some of them. (don’t ask, I won’t tell).
- I’m still me. What I mean is, I still play video games (a lot less because of college though), I still listen to hard rock music (although I prefer classical goes pop on Pandora), I still color in my coloring book (to be fair, that started after I stepped down), and I still love having deep life changing conversations with youth. So, I realized that what I did was less about becoming someone for the kids and more about being myself. That was just a kind of cool thing to notice.
- Life carried on. I went back to college and am now 3 classes from my AA. I am a bit further down the road with my books, I am soon going to be an empty-nester, and the universe didn’t implode. Mind you, that last one could happen at any moment.
All in all, it’s been a good year. I’ve had some struggles, I’ve had some joys. I’ve been asked on a few occasions when and if I am coming back. Prior to yesterday, my answer was always, “I promised myself to take a year off, so as of this moment, I can’t answer that question.”
Today though, today marks day +1, and the part that kind of sucks about the whole thing is that if one of my kids (yep, still call them that) came up to me and asked me the when/if question, I don’t know what I’d say.
Guess that can be a good thing too.
Only time will tell.