For almost the last 10 years, I helped with youth ministry in some form or fashion. From retreats and pilgrimages, small groups and one-on-one conversations, to lock-ins and service projects, I’ve loved every aspect.
I look back on those years and have so many amazing memories. I’m sure that if the youth got anything out of knowing me, I reaped a hundred fold. These junior high and high schoolers were like a combination of my kiddos and my little brothers or sisters. Being a twenty something lady, you definitely get a little of both!
After getting married I also yearned to be a mother and knew that when that time came, my volunteer abilities would change. Then during the years when Jason and I struggled with infertility, I loved getting to “mother” these kids by asking them how school was going, encouraging them in their faith, and baking them cookies. And brownies. And cupcakes. 🙂 When we finally announced our pregnancy, the youth were thrilled. We got lots of hugs (safe environment friendly, don’t worry), sweet baby gifts, and they loved seeing my belly grow week to week. They were even kind enough to help me out during the third trimester when I sat down and could barely get up.
I clearly remember helping chaperone both our parish confirmation retreat and the March for Life pilgrimage last year while I was pregnant. It was such a bizarre feeling, knowing that these things I’d been doing for years wouldn’t quite be conducive anymore with a baby. I was going to strangely miss sleeping in a bunk bed at the retreat center or on the floor in a sleeping bag at our host parish in DC. I was going to miss staying up late helping, doing head counts, and giving lights out warnings and wake up calls.
But little did I know, these years of experiences would help prepare me for my new form of youth ministry. Trust me, lack of sleep and bed times are not missing from my life now! But above all, my young adult years spent striving to help youth in their spiritual lives have molded me into a mom who can now strive to raise my daughter to be a saint. The teens who over the years were my little brothers and sisters in Christ have prepped me for the goal of getting my own flesh and blood to heaven.
So to all of the youth that I’ve known and worked with…first of all, thank you. And I miss you! Through you, I’ve learned how to teach and explain the faith, lead both prayer and goofy activities, plus tested out countless dessert recipes on you little guinea pigs with good metabolism. My interactions and conversations with you have taught me invaluable lessons that will help shape this new phase of youth ministry in my life as a mother ministering to her own child.
You’ve all kept me feeling young and hey, now I feel like I have an advantage on those “awful” teenage years that are to come!