I would venture to say that I am a person who loves exploring. I get immense joy of driving in head first in order to have a better understanding of my world as well as the worlds of those around me. So when I took my EVM internship this year, I thought it was sort of in the same realm. I combined my job as youth pastor at Pelham Road Baptist Church with my internship as an administrative observer. I figured this experience would be similar to the other times I have shadowed pastors and churches. And just like most times that we think we know even a small part of God’s plan, He proved me entirely wrong. With my internship, I get to sit in on staff meetings, plan congregational events, build relationships, create budgets, and, oh yeah, preach in January. Talk about learning WAY more than I ever anticipated.
With all of this newly gained and unexpected knowledge, I am overwhelmed with both excitement as well as fear. Okay, mostly fear. I have known my calling into ministry since 8th grade, which some people think is awesome, but I think it’s just plain scary. The pressure of knowing what you’re supposed to be, but not how to get there or how to do it well when you finally arrive is mind-blowing. It feels like your professor tells you the first day of class that you will have a test. In your mind, you know that test is most likely just a test of your knowledge and not really an assessment of what you have learned so far since you haven’t learned anything yet. But in that process, you also scramble to study or ask questions or do something to better your chances of your perception in your professor’s eyes. The more I type that, the more it feels alarmingly accurate. Life is a constant test of what you have to offer, what you can bring to the table, and how pleasant you can be in the process. When in reality, your professor (God) just wants to learn how to best teach you from where you currently stand. And that’s where the excitement piece comes in to play. How cool is it that I get these opportunities? How gracious is it that God has been slowly showing me who I’m called to be over the last 7 years and continues to teach me about my own self? And how amazing is it that I get to actually enjoy the journey of getting there?
I have no clue where I will end up. I’m sure I haven’t even come close to processing all that I have learned through my internship so far. But I do know that I’m learning how to be myself (even in the times that I feel like I don’t know who I am). And that is probably one of the coolest things ever. So just when you feel like you’re overwhelmed with experiences or you have zero clue about what your next steps will be or you’re feeling pressure from too many extraneous sources, remember these 3 things:
- Every one (and I mean everyone) is just as clueless about what they’re doing. The sooner you admit that, the sooner you get to have some really awesome people figuring out life alongside you.
- Pray through your uncertainty. I’ve learned that God is an excellent listener. That great kind of listener who lets you process everything out loud until you finally have at least some peace about where you are (like Maria!). But in all seriousness, I do believe that we were not created to suffer unnecessarily by holding onto our burdens completely on our own. Try giving some of that up every once and a while.
- And finally, learn to breathe. It’s way too easy to get stressed or compete for busyness or just plain be miserable because it’s still cold and rainy outside. But we hold the power of our own attitude, and that can make worlds of difference. Especially in this transformative time in our lives.