Saturday, January 10, 2009

Stranded in Wilmore

First term of seminary is completed. Am I burnt out? I am burnt out in one specific way- that of being in Wilmore. I'm tired of the "Christian" bubble, the tiny town atmosphere and all that goes with Kentucky rural living. I miss crowds. I miss excitement. I miss friends. After being here for four years, I'm beginning to feel restless, lonely, and basically left out. We hear from many friends about the wonders of Chicago living and I have to admit it sounds enticing. Yet, we know this is where we are supposed to be. We need cheap living, childcare co-ops, the medical support of the KY government, safe street, spiritual refreshment in community, and a quiet atmosphere to make it through the challenging times of grad school, early marriage, and young children.
What have I learned this term?
1. Studying youth ministry and seeking future ministry work among youth is humbling. Most people who do youth ministry do not have a degree in it and certainly don't see it worthy of their life's work. Just saying I'm studying youth ministry makes me cringe because I know most people are either thinking I'm a nut or that I'm wasting my time. Humbled.
2. Group work is still group work. One person does all the work, the rest ride along even in grad school.
3. Saving in more than one place is tough as a mother. I lost my flash drive. I lost my work. I lost control. The last was good for me, but was also terribly frustrating. I will now save in 4 places and take myself and my work less seriously, because let's face it- I'm also a mother.
4. The health of my spirit will effect the excellence of my work and my physical stamina. Worship needs to be my number one priority or I will seek studying as an end in itself rather than as a means to more effective and efficient service for God's work.
5. There are many struggles ahead for myself as a female in ministry. It is sad in class how many men dominate the conversation and leave little room for the wisdom of women to speak through.
6. Specific to youth ministry- youth ministry needs to be taken seriously, undergirded with theology and spiritual formation rather than suffocated with endless programs and trends that create good youth ministry kids instead of life long Christians. As a youth minister, the most important thing I can do is encourage and train parents to live out and teach faith to their children in the home. Many youth in America are looking for means to feed their Spirit. They need to be taught to overcome distractions and choose faith as a piece of their internal identity. Nurture and conversion must be in balance for youth to form, commit, and grow in relationship with the Living God.

Juggling the roles of wife, mother, and student is difficult. At this point, my life almost needs compartmentalization in order to stay task-oriented and accomplish what I must in the time I have. It is my hope, though, that these three will come together while outlining a proper way for me to maintain priorities.
I'm gearing up for another term and aim to be more flexible, less controlling, and more content with our station in life. The station of Wilmore is simply the center of my current labyrinth of life. It will soon be the maze of the past. It is my time in the belly of the whale, a time to cease my struggle and open my ears again to the voice of God that I might live into the mystery of obedience after the the 3 days (or years) are up.