For the last seven months, I’ve been writing a preschool curriculum for my church. Our preschool team had been struggling to find the right materials for our church and been coming up empty. I had written a few weeks of curriculum earlier in the year and after seeing how well it went, I was hired to write the curriculum for an entire year.
The goal of the curriculum was to take one topic and teach it for an entire month so that there would be enough repetition for the kids to really grasp what they were learning. Instead of blazing through the entire Old Testament in a year, we decided to teach twelve basics of faith, one per month, for an entire year. Then, at the end of the curriculum year, we would start over at the beginning so that by the time the kids are five, they would have heard every lesson at least three times.
The writing process has been a wonderful experience for my own understanding of my faith. If you ever want to learn a topic really well, write it out so a four year old can understand it. I learned quickly that I had to strip away everything that wasn’t important. I spent hours working through what it really means to obey God, to pray, to be thankful. It was even harder to not include the junk that usually gets put into children when they are little, such as the ideas that God will keep bad things from happening to us, that God will keep us safe, and that God will answer our prayers how we want them to be answered. I have seen first hand how much the kids are retaining the curriculum and how they are growing as a result. I have grown even more.
There is a flip-side to every situation, though. Even though the writing was great and the kids were learning, I never felt settled in the job. I didn’t really belong there. Something felt not right, like when one of your shoes is slightly too big.
About two months ago, I began to ask God if this was really where he wanted me to be. It made sense for me to be where I was. I have a passion for kids. I get four year olds. I can speak their language and I understand what bugs them. I know how to communicate with them and I can tell when they just need to dance around and be silly. Maybe it’s because there are large parts of my day when I also just want to dance around and be silly! More than that, though, every time I read the accounts of Christ talking about how precious children are, my heart achingly agrees! When he says that it would be better to drown yourself than to harm a child, I’m all in. (If you think He didn’t really say that, go look up Matthew 18:6.) I want kids to learn and grow and to love God for who He truly is, not the weird God some adults have made up.
So, why the unsettled feeling? It made no sense to me, but it became increasingly obvious that I did not belong in our ministry. And, to be honest, it broke my heart a little. I tried, and tried, and tried, to make it work. I begged and pleaded with God for this to be the right place for me.
A few weeks ago, something inside me switched and I went from begging God to make it work to saying, “Okay. I get it. Just show me once and for all if I’m not supposed to be doing this.”
Two days later, I was sitting in my associate pastor’s office hearing him tell me that just like all of us, our church was having to live within it’s means, and that meant letting me go.
I have rarely felt such a relief, such a peace.
I want to say, very clearly, how much I love and respect our church leadership for making some tough decisions. I have rarely seen such caring and humble pastors. I have never been more confidant that I am at the right church and my respect and admiration for my pastors has grown with leaps and bounds over the last month.
My pastor and I talked for almost an hour and a half and I seriously got some things off my chest. I told him about my passion for children’s ministry and how badly I wanted to be working there. He said something I’ll never forget: “Sometimes, God doesn’t put us where it makes sense for us to be.”. I have known for along time that God doesn’t always do what we want Him to do. I’m still without my pony, even though I’ve been asking for one for Christmas for 35 years! I’ve also known that I don’t get His plan for me. You know, cancer, house burning down, chronic pain, and all that stuff. It really never occurred to me to translate that into my service at church, though. I’ve always thought that I would plug all my abilities into a computer and it would spit out the perfect place for me to serve. Maybe that works for some people, but not for me.
For the first time in my living memory, at the end of December, I will be without a ministry. I will not only be leaving my writing position, but my teaching one as well. For a while, I am going to sit, be quiet, and ask God where He wants me to be. I’m done with trying to get something to fit. I’m tired of trying to fit in.
I’m really excited, but seriously curious as to see what happens next. I’ll be meeting with another of our pastors soon to talk through my life, my heart for ministry, and to see where I should be.
In an e-mail from the associate pastor, who has now secured a place in my top ten favorite pastors list, he said, “Your best days of investing in God’s Kingdom still lay in front of you!” It’s amazing what one sentence can do to uplift, encourage me, and to give me such an eager expectation of what is coming next.
Maybe it will involve a pony! 🙂