Thursday, May 1, 2014

Change is Good

It is official—the word on the street is…..I am retiring! I have worked with teenagers for going on 29 years and have decided that it is time to close out this great adventure and venture into new territory. I was 16 when I first had the desire to work with teens. I had an incredible English teacher, Mrs. Byson, who poured love of life and literature into me and the rest of her students. She instilled in me a passion for the written word, for expressing myself on a blank canvas, and for finding my voice as a writer and as a person. I knew that I wanted to have an impact on teens like she had on me, so I headed to college as an English major and went on to get my teaching credential in secondary education. I had aspirations to be one of those legendary teachers who stays at one school and teaches generations of families. But my creative spirit took me to different places—three schools over the span of 14 years, teaching the Writing Project for teachers at UCSD and teaching everything from ESL, ASB, drama, but with my main focus on English and history.  I loved it when history came alive for students as they read an historical novel with a protagonist their age. I was thrilled when students found their voice in a poem or a persuasive essay. But mostly I loved watching teens evolve into their own person as they gained confidence in themselves. When my two boys came into the picture, I realized that I couldn’t teach with the energy and passion I wanted to give to my profession,  and have the energy and passion to be a mom, so in the year 2000, I quietly “retired” from teaching. I couldn’t stay away from teens and I soon found myself working in ministry as Area Director for Young Life. It was a different kind of teaching-- one that was relational as well as spiritual. I wasn’t teaching kids how to analyze a novel or write an essay, but I was teaching them about Jesus, the Savior of the World. It was a role in which I loved as I watched young teens find their faith and identity in Christ, and in which I could disciple and mentor leaders who then poured into kids’ lives. I loved watching the discipleship model in action.  After seven years of Young Life, with many camps, clubs and crazy antics behind me, I had the honor of becoming the Youth Director at Canyon Springs Church.  It was a joy as I worked alongside my friend Mat, who was a former Young Life kid and leader, as we followed God’s leading to build the program known as Oasis at this church. During my eight years in this position, I have had a front row seat in watching kids’ and families’ lives changed as they grew in their maturity and their faith. I have watched as teens have served in  leadership positions, as adults have poured their time and energy into investing in kids’ lives, as teens have grown into amazing young adults who own their faith and live it out in bold action on their college campuses and in their jobs. I often have felt over the years like a proud mom (and now a proud grandma—am I that old??) I have often thought that I would be serving teens until I was in my rocker at camp, still allowing kids to attack me with shaving cream at messy games, still rapping my infamous raffle time song, and still listening to kids share their hearts, their doubts, and their fears.  During my year long battle with cancer, God has given me a new perspective on life. As much as I love teens and my life’s work, I feel it is time to move on. It is bittersweet; it has been a long, prayerful, and deliberate thought process. I am not sure what lies ahead. I know that ministry is what God has gifted me for.  I know that I could never give up mentoring ,counseling, empowering or even teaching—that is who I am—it is what fills me up.  I have always said that I have no desire to be famous or popular or in a high powered position. All I have ever wanted is to make an impact on those closest to me, to have made a difference in their lives.  As I retire, I leave behind a position that has defined me for many years—teacher, mentor, counselor, speaker. Yet I know that no position or career can define me, because my worth is in my identity in Christ Jesus. What I do with my life, the work others see, is just a reflection of Christ in me. I hope that my faith and my integrity have left an imprint on those I have had the joy of crossing paths with through these years. I know that God works when we are in uncharted territory, when we are embarking on the unknown, and being led by Him. Even though I am retiring from this position, I am certainly not finished with the life work God has called me to do. Every moment and every day counts and I want to continue to make an impact and share my faith no matter where God leads me next. 


Unknown said...

Genetic teachers teach no matter what their titles roles or job descriptions are. It is what they were brought into the world to do. It is how the interact with that world. You are not retiring from teaching just from the current mat you stand on. There is always a another mat waiting for you. The fun is discovering it through exploring all the different ones out there.
PS my dad "retired" but is very busy with a day home teaching special needs adults computer skills. We teachers do not know how to retire, we just transition.

Irene said...

Congrats on your years of service. I cannot wait to hear where your journey will take you next, because you clearly have so much more to offer. I send you light and love as your journey moves onto a new road. May that road lay open with just enough pot holes to make the trip interesting. Irene

Molly said...

Time off from life really has a way of changing you doesn't it? My hope is that everyone who gets sidelined realises that God is changing them from the inside and time away is often what it takes to get our attention. Of course one day He will take us home and what a reward that will be.

I'm excited for you! I now you will be missed but God will provide. I like how sure you are...that will help right when you are wondering where to go next, or serve next. God bless you!!