when i left my role as youth director at the church, it was weird. everything. was weird. i never really viewed my job as my identity, but i moved to upper sandusky directly in that role as youth director. no one in upper, especially “my kids” ever knew me as simply michele. i was michele, the youth director.

so when i was no longer michele, the youth director and instead simply “michele”, relationships seemed to change. conversations evolved. i felt like people viewed my exit as youth director as also an exit from interest in their lives. i felt shut down; shut out.

when we moved to findlay and decided to plug into st. pauls, my friend mark was very good about letting me move at my own pace and help with the youth. i’ve always wanted to be the #1 volunteer – who gets to say no to things i don’t like, who doesn’t have to be the bad guy about the rules, all of that. but it’s also hard to know where the scheme of things you fit best. i’ve done it all in youth ministry, but not all of it well. so just because i can do and have done something doesn’t mean that i should. very difficult discernment for someone as intense as i.

just in the past week i’ve recieved a few communications with “my kids”. all random, mostly due to my initiation. they started slow, and i felt that coldness that i sensed. but after the next message things started to thaw. one of them even said they missed me. there may have been a tear.

i’ve had trouble working myself into new ministry because i think my heart is still healing after the “old” one (old is opposite new, right?). it made me sad that my kids didn’t need, didn’t want me around anymore. getting to know new kids? well, let’s just say i don’t handle rejection well so i just don’t try. truthfully i think that’s what all the snobby girls do, it’s their secret. after i discovered it i found it to be my defense mechinism of choice.

after talking to a few of my kids, though, i think i need a change of perspective. they weren’t cold all along. i was. they never shut down – i did. i worried how they might think of me differently so i gave them a reason to think differently – i disappeared.

there’s lots of things in life i wish i could do differently with new perspective. there’s lots of things in that job i wish i had done differently. there’s a list of things about leaving that job that i wish i had done differently. but i guess such experience is always a lesson for next time – if nothing else, that i need to have a next time.

so in venturing into new students, lives that are around me now… maybe i just need to remember that it did matter. it probably doesn’t matter now, but at the moment it did. and it can matter now in this newness, if i let it. if i open up to it.

**edit: i had some car time this evening and got to thinking: what do teachers do about this? you spend a year in the life of a child, and then the next year some younger, hipper version breaks out the newest trends in cursive writing and the days of the Q and U wedding are in the yearbooks. are you trained well in being last years’ forgotten hero? or does the prospect of a new class just bring fresh hope?

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