It’s Monday morning. I’ve spent the last few hours waking up every so often and checking the time. I don’t want to be late when I’m not used to the unusually early hour. At 5:30 a.m., my alarm officially goes off as I quietly roll out of bed. I’m out the door within the hour, and headed to my favorite part of the week.
For the past few years, I knew what God was calling me towards. I just refused to listen because I wasn’t ready. He had the timing off (yeah, right). I couldn’t possibly fit that into my life right now, and I’m still figuring life out. But the gentle pulling wouldn’t go away.
In high school, I was a Young Life kid. In college, I volunteered at camps on summer staff. It was how I came to Christ, and what I knew. I had a passion for high school ministry that met students where they were and entered their world in a way that was relatable. But as I tried to navigate that ministry world as an adult, it was cloudy and I wasn’t sure where I belonged.
For some reason, God kept calling me to a local private school here in Greenville. I hadn’t attend Christ Church, and didn’t know many people that graduated from the school. It was out of my realm, but I was never more sure of where I was continuously being called.
So last August, I e-mailed one of my friends who has a son that was going into the ninth grade. I asked her to send me a list of a few moms that had daughters going into their freshman year. She sent over six names attached to six e-mail addresses.
As I wrote an e-mail to those moms, I honestly didn’t know where to start. “You don’t know me, but I want to hang out with your kids.” “My name is Paula, and I asked someone for your e-mail.” “I want to talk to you about your daughter.” See what I mean? Everything sounded odd and a little creepy. But I couldn’t deny what God was calling me to do. So I continued to write, and closed my eyes as I hit send.
What followed that initial e-mail was undoubtedly the work of the Lord. I not only got six e-mails back saying, “absolutely” and “can we meet for coffee?” but I got seven more. My group immediately more than doubled to thirteen.
I knew that the girls had a crazy schedule – rigorous college prep, AP classes, and sports every afternoon – but my schedule is hectic too and I knew that we would figure it out.
We met at Panera for the first time, thirteen eyeballs staring at me, and I suddenly felt like the new kid at the lunch table. In my head, I was trying to remember all of their first names, last names, mother’s names and their extracurricular activity of choice from the notebook I had written in, that ended up looking like the most confusing graph I had ever attempted to make useful.
What I learned over the course of the next six months was that I was spending more time with Jesus through planning our Monday Bible study, that I was growing in my faith as I helped others grow in theirs, and that I felt really old every time I was around them. From songs that I could never even guess the lyrics, to terms like ‘glow up,’ I had officially lost touch at the age of 28. But I was loving every minute of it.
During one morning meeting, I asked the girls to take a small piece of paper, and separate around the room. I wanted each girl to write down a question – for me, for a pastor, or for Jesus. You can ask anything, just make it a question in which you really want to hear the answer. I told them not to put their names down, only the question.
When I got home later that day, I unwrapped each tiny piece of folded paper that I had pushed down into the center of my bible, and I wept.
I wept for each question that I had felt at some point in my life, if not right now in this moment.
“How do I know what God wants for me?”
“What do I do when my friends start to change?”
“How do I live a life that the Lord would be proud of?”
The weight of the questions I held in my hand seemed to continue to get heavier, until I had dropped them back into the center of my Bible.
And as I looked down and the tears continued to fall, I realized that is exactly where they belonged – within the words of the Lord as I began to listen to how He wanted me to respond to each.
I have found so much joy in praying over these thirteen girls. The love that fills my heart when I say each of them by name is incredible. Often I will send the girls inspirational quotes and I came across one that stopped me. I couldn’t think of a more accurate way to describe the time I spend both with them and away from them.
Black type stretched over a plain white background, and simply said: “I talk to God about you.”
I talk to God about you. I talk to God about your current situations, your futures and your dreams. I talk to God about your relationship with Him, your family and each other. I talk to God about the wonderful thirteen creations He made when He first spoke your name, and the constant blessing you are to my life. I talk to God about you. And I could not be more thankful that I have the privilege to do so.
Six months ago, I wasn’t ready to take on this many girls in a Bible study. I still don’t know if I am, as the number has now grown to fourteen. I was waiting until my spiritual life was perfect and completely in order and I had all of the answers, until I realized that I’m not perfect. And I never will be. Jesus didn’t call me to be perfect, only present. That I can do and will do for these girls until the day they leave me for college and I cry as much as their mothers.
My Bible study leader told me that we should always have someone pouring into us, and we in turn should be pouring into others. I know that there are hundreds (yes, hundreds) of incredible Christian women in Greenville. I know, because I have the pleasure in knowing you. I know that it’s intimidating, and I know that you will feel like you’re not ready, but taking on this Bible study is by far one of the best things I have ever done in life. Showing them the love that Jesus shows me every day is like nothing I have ever experienced. If you have ever felt that pull to share your life and time in the form of youth ministry, I am telling you that it will fill your soul. I am telling you that it will be incredible. And I am telling you that you will find your life when you lay it down. I know that schedules get in the way. Work is really crazy right now. I’m in like four Bible studies and I can’t add on another one. I know because I made those same excuses. But at some point we have to live out
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples…”
At some point we have to do what God has put us on this Earth to do.
To my girls, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your lives with me every day. I shared with you that on the way to breakfast one morning I was praying and I said, “God I love them so much,” to which He immediately responded, “Not as much as I do.” While my love fails in comparison to His, it is my joy to try to love you like He does – to look at all of you like the wonderfully made creations that you are. Monday mornings are my absolute favorite because of your fourteen faces – from seeing you walk in the door to hugging you goodbye at carpool. God has called me into a season of waiting, and while I don’t know the entire picture of what that looks like, I have an amazing fourteen reasons why.
I love you so much.
“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”