Missing: Part of My Identity

This morning was one of the strangest Monday mornings I’ve had in a long time.

I woke up this morning, got my son all settled into breakfast and his morning routine, and then I walked to my computer to check my e-mail and make my weekly “to do list” for work.

And then, realized that there is no longer a need for a “work to-do list” because I am officially retired from youth ministry and am entering into my “stay at home mom” years.

I’ve been praying about, waiting for, and counting down to this day for a couple of years.  I knew it was coming, but it always seemed like it was out there on the horizon – something to talk about and wait for, but nothing that would actually happen.

And, now that it’s upon me, I’m not sure how I feel.  Happy, a little sad, nostalgic, free, excited, overwhelmed with the rest of my life.  But, the biggest emotion that is surprising me is something I can’t put a word on…confused?  lost?  useless?

The reason I am feeling these things is because I have identified myself as a part of youth ministry for 9 years, almost the entire time since I entered into “adulthood” after college.  Youth ministry is so much a part of who I am, it has been such a huge part of my spiritual, personal, and emotional development as an adult, I am finding it difficult to see myself and my life without it.

Much of the youth group at our wedding reception 3.5 years ago…

Now, don’t be worried that I am insecure with myself or that I don’t know who I am.  My entire identity is not wrapped up in being a youth minister – I know who I am as a daughter of God, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend.

But, for the past 7 years all of my e-mails, voicemails, business cards, etc. said “Rebecca Murphy, Youth Minister”.  And, now, it’s just kind of weird to think about that title being removed from mine and the world’s identification of me.

So many of my friends, spiritual experiences, memories, stories, my LIFE has been centered around or related to things with the youth group.  I have over 15,000 pictures of youth group events from the past 7 years.  I have more prayer journals, t-shirts, toys, books, cards & notes, religious articles, etc. etc. than I know what to do with!

Yes, as I said and have written about before, this life change has been what I have been praying and discerning about for a couple of years.  This is what I feel that God has called me and our family to – to move on from serving the Church in this way, for the time being.  I am thankful that God has heard and answered our prayers on these matters and I look forward to seeing how this all plays out in the coming months and years.

But, at the present moment, I am working on acclimating to who I am without youth minister/youth ministry as a defining aspect of my life.  I guess, until I figure out a better way to put it, I’ll just change my e-mail signature and voice mail messages to say “Rebecca Murphy, Person.”

“Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory.”  (Henri Nouwen)

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