But, as I was cleaning, a piece of paper fell out of a notebook/binder and at the top of it was "My fears in doing Young Life". And I had to stop doing whatever it was that I was doing at that moment and read and reflect upon this page of items that I had listed out.
I wrote this list back when I was seriously contemplating becoming a leader in my small hometown, where I had moved back to after college. I spent the first year, after graduation and just starting my new job, hanging out around YL, helping out in various forms but I couldn't bring myself to make the commitment to be a leader to it yet. My prior experience as a leader in college created a whole slew of doubt and wrestling with my faith, especially as I had a hard experience with it, and ended up leaving the ministry in the middle of my third (junior, for all you non-UVA peeps :)) year at school. I am also a pretty introverted person most of the time, which, if you know anything about Young Life, makes it hilarious that I would even consider being a leader, since it requires a lot of excitement, improvisation, and engagement with high school kids who are way cooler than you ever will be. So all of these factors created a huge amount of trepidation when I started seriously considering becoming a leader again.
So I wrote down this list, which is listed below in its entirety:
My fears in doing Young Life:
- Losing sight of my relationship with God.
- Not having the right words at the right time.
- Being up front in front of high school kids.
- High school kids laughing at me.
- Not leading any kids to Christ.
- Being at camp -> having to be excited all the time; get messy; do the ropes course
- Not being able to talk to girls about Christ because of my shyness.
- Not having anything to say to the kids when hanging out with them.
- Not being real with my team members.
- Not letting my team into my life.
- Letting my team into my life.
- Being criticized.
- What it could cost me career-wise.
- Not having the time to do it.
- Having to go to high school games.
- Having to lead a group of girls in a small group.
- God not being with me in any of it.
- Having to talk to girls to have them open up in deep conversation.
- Asking the hard questions/the challenging questions.
- Running any of the skits in club.
- Having to be in any of the skits in club.
- Kids not paying attention/participating
- Not having patience with the high school kids.
- Being humbled by the high school kids.
- Being unsupported by my team.
- Not having a clearly defined role.
- Of Completely and Utterly Failing at This Ministry Again!
- Of Losing God as my Center, Being Replaced with the Idol of Young Life Ministry.
Reading that list, and even typing it out now, I can feel those fears - some of them much more than others (uh, hello, pit-in-my-stomach-at-the-thought-of-the-ropes-course). I read them and I see a girl who is very afraid, very uncertain of herself and her identity, very unsure about the strength of her faith, and very wary of falling into some of the same traps and pitfalls that she did the first time around. They are the fears of a girl with some trust issues, a girl who doesn't like to be pushed out of her comfort zone, and a girl who had yet to really experience the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am here, now, five years later from the point that I wrote out that list. I took a leap of faith and listened to the pull of that crazy high school kids had on my heart, threw my hat into the ring, and decided to become a high school Young Life leader.
In those five years, I've faced each one of those fears that I wrote down. I found out that I didn't have to have the right words or questions for deep conversations - because God already did. I found out that it didn't matter whether or not high school kids thought I was funny or not. I found out that I didn't need to lead kids to Christ - God has His timing in each of our lives - all I had to do was demonstrate and be a small, micro-example of His love. I found out that I can do the ropes course, I can be utterly ridiculous in front of a crowd of kids (be it 5, 50, or 500), that I can go to high school games by myself. I found out that I can be loved and supported by my team - that in fact, I absolutely have to be loved and supported by them - and let them into my life. I found out that God drew me even closer to Himself through being a willing vessel in this ministry - that there is no failure when I am obedient to Him and the prompting of His Spirit. I found out that a small step of faith brings a whole lot of God into my life.
It's kind of kismet that I ran across this list this weekend, as I watch time slip by me and find myself towards the end of the first semester of the school year. This past semester has been one of the richest times of ministry that God has allowed me to ever experience. He has been completely rocking my world since camp this summer and it is amazing to be a part of it. To see where we have come from a year ago to now utterly blows my mind! For me, a light bulb went off this summer when I got to experience a high school girls decide to commit their lives to Christ - to literally see them cross from death to life. And now - now I don't really care all that much what being a part of this costs me in terms of time, career, or otherwise - for there is really nothing greater that I can do with my life than to be a beacon of God's light in the darkness...and to watch Him light other beacons around me.
I still carry a whole slew of fear with me (seriously, the ropes course will never go away) but I have learned that when I take a step of faith in spite of them, it is amazing to see what God can do.