Who thought I would ever miss them?
You know who I am talking about – those people who annoy the crap out of you because they are messing around in Target while you are trying to grocery shop with your toddler…the ones who cut you off in traffic or speed past you when you’re trying to change lanes because they really don’t know how to drive yet…the folks who clog up your newsfeed with 8 million pictures of themselves and their friends making a variety of faces in pictures together…
Yes, them. Teenagers.
It’s no secret that I loved being a youth minister. I mean, why else would I have given up 9 years of Sunday evenings, Wednesday mornings, and more weeks and weekends than I can remember to be with them?
But, as much as I loved being a youth minister and working with youth, there were many, MANY times when I felt like a swift kick in the pants is what most of them needed. There were many Sunday evenings when I went home feeling deflated, annoyed, burnt out, and “over it”. Just ask my husband. He got to hear all about it.
A month has passed since I retired from working with the youth of the Church. And, I can’t say that I miss being at the church at all hours of the day or night. I don’t miss stressing over details of a youth group event, having enough food for dinner, making sure everyone’s permission forms are turned in AND signed, that everyone packs up all their junk and leaves the cabin looking nice at camp. I don’t miss the rolling ball that was running a youth group – a ball that seemed like it had no end in sight.
Nope. I don’t miss that stuff one bit.
What I miss, though, are those doggone teens. I miss their goofiness and getting to laugh at dumb jokes with them. I miss giving them a hard time about where they were last weekend or what they were thinking wearing that outfit. I miss hearing about their adventures, their camping trips, their drive to Six Flags, their day at the lake.
I miss knowing what’s happening with their lives – getting ready for college, joining a new team, breaking up with their BF/GF, family trips, the drama between friends. I miss being there to ask them the tough questions, to guide them through the murky waters of high school, and giving them confidence and assurance as they prepare to start a new chapter of their lives in college.
What I miss the most, though, is their love, maybe the toughest love to earn and keep. I miss hearing them talk about their growing love for Christ, what they experienced in prayer and how it is changing them, how much they love and how important the youth group is for them. I miss that they hardly ever said “thank you” or “I love being Catholic”, but they showed it with their responsiveness, their involvement, their commitment, and their actions.
I may be enjoying the spoils of stay-at-home motherhood (such that they are). But, there’s no denying that 9 years of working with youth changed my perspective on teens and they have a deep and important place in my heart.
So, to any of “my” teens who may read this, don’t be fooled into thinking I happily left you all “behind”. I had to move forward with my life and what God has called me to. Know, though, that I think of you everyday and pray for you as much and maybe even more than I did when we saw each other all the time.