I would say that this last week has probably been the worst since coming to Southend. But that makes it sound like it’s been a completely terrible week, and in retrospect, this week has just been another week in Youth Work. In fact, I’m not even going to go into all the little things that have made this week really hard for me. I was having a really rough time on Monday though, and during worship rehearsal my line manager pulled me outside for a chat. I wasn’t hiding my bad mood that well, to be perfectly honest. I was fed up. But she said some things to me which made me feel so appreciated and welcomed, and normally I would have thought she was just being nice, but the words came out with such a weight attached to them that I realised she really meant them. And I started crying. Although seemingly a really stupid thing, I enjoyed that moment with Rachel: blubbering on her shoulder, smearing all manner of eyeliner and mascara around my face, but sharing that kind of special moment with someone breaks down walls and barriers in the relationship that would normally take months, even years to dissolve. It’s a good way to strengthen a relationship.
That is one thing that I enjoy about working for a church. I have so much love and support from the Leaders of the church, and even just the members of the congregation – so much more so than I would if I was at University or in a secular workplace. I guess in any workplace, you will all have one common goal – whether that is to make as much money as possible, or to spread the message of the Love, Hope and Joy that comes from Jesus. I’m so lucky to have such a brilliant and supportive leadership team, (I know not all the other Optimum Volunteers have) and it is definitely weeks like this that make me aware of that. God’s put me in Avenue for something great, but he’s also put a lot of other wonderful people here too – everything brilliant that happens here this year or in the years to come, is down to years of hard work, commitment, and a lot of sowing seeds by the members of this congregation. And now I am a part of that. I am starting some things which totally wouldn’t be possible without such a great leadership team backing me up. The leaders of the church, the deacons, and the church members – all have such a passion for the work that we (as a church) have been doing (in the church, the local community, and abroad in Romania and the Philippines) that it makes so much more possible! And even though this week I’ve been feeling a bit out of my depths and almost like I’m not making a difference, its words from Rachel, Phil, Jo or Julie that make me feel appreciated and loved. Thanks guys.
On Thursday I went to lunch with Jo, who is also on my Pastoral Care team. (He thought he should check up with me after my mood at Worship rehearsal on Monday...) We’d been emailing the last few days and at lunch I elaborated and talked to him in depth about some of the things I was struggling with and worried about, which is something I rarely do, to be honest. I find it really hard to talk openly to someone face to face, as Steve and my counsellors have often discovered. I’m a writer, not a talker. Poems are my self-expression when I feel the lowest – the darkest and most desperate of times of my life have been recorded in a poem somewhere. I’ve shared all my poems with Jo. (The majority of them have only been seen by a handful of people and it’ll probably stay that way for some time to be honest.) But through the conversations that I’ve had with Jo, I noticed something in him which I can connect to, and I’ve realised that he’s someone I can really talk to: which is why when he asked me to meet for lunch I said ‘Yes’ straight away. Normally there would have been quite some degree of hesitation where I would have rehearsed everything that I needed to say in my head a thousand times (and yet still never managing to say it in the conversation.)
Jo is a good listener. I talked to him about those dark times in my life, and he didn’t run away or tell me I was crazy. He allowed me to vent my anxieties and attempt to explain myself, and he helped me to see things in perspective. We had a good talk and I shared with him things I very rarely tell people. But I’m glad I did. Because I know that not only will it allow Jo to understand me a bit better, but he will be a good point of contact for me when I feel like my head is going to explode. And although Jo would probably never say it himself, he is very wise.
When all this time I’ve been worrying about things and was sure that God was ignoring me, he showed me how much God has been working in me. And that was a real relief. Even though I felt like I had no control on my life, God had his hand on me, and was guiding me. Every day when I felt like it could get no worse, God lifted me from the depths and renewed me in strength. It was quite funny actually, when Jo quoted me at one point, for my email signature for some time has been a quote from when I saw Switchfoot in concert, and it kind of sums up how we should view our relationships with God.
"Every morning is a resurrection."