Friday, June 22, 2007

Just put one foot in front of the other...

...and you'll be amazed at how far your little legs will take you.

My more astute readers may have noticed that I posted my last entry at the un-godly hour of 3:46 am. My brain has switched into 'manic' mode these past few weeks….I've been falling asleep late and waking up early (and sometimes not going to sleep at all, as my previous post demonstrates). This is not a bad thing. I usually get this way when I'm really excited about something and my brain won't stop tossing around the details of whatever it is I'm excited about. It could be a change that I'm making in my life, a new project that I've taken on, or an inexplicable flood of creative brainstorming that has me looking at some everyday thing in my life in a new and exciting way.
It's the same drive that makes me climb out of bed at three in the morning because I have an idea for a sermon and if I don't start writing it right there and then I'll never remember it the next day.

This month's mania centers around my role as the Religious Education team leader at church. It's a role I reluctantly took on last year, agreeing to it primarily because I knew it would be good for me to get some experience working with kids before I got thrown to the wolves during Seminary Field Education.
(you Freudians out there, note the comparison: Wolves=Kids….nuff said)

Although I was excited by the challenge at first, the realization of what I was taking on soon set in. Not only was I was the RE team leader but I was also the Sunday School Superintendent (roles usually filled by two people). I was in charge of picking the curriculum, recruiting teachers and helpers, stocking the supply closet, organizing and overseeing our opening Rally Day, Thanksgiving Harvest Sharing, the Christmas Pageant, the Easter Egg hunt, Children's Sunday, Summer Enrichment, and Vacation Bible School. I was also responsible for recruiting leaders for the Youth Groups and overseeing their activities, planning and implementing Adult Education classes with the Pastor, and hiring and monitoring our Child Care worker. If that wasn't enough, I volunteered to teach Sunday School (because we were one teacher short), I cover the nursery when needed, and on any given Sunday I have to be ready to jump up and take the Sunday School class in the event the teacher doesn't show up.

Yes, I was excited at first, and with a team of dedicated RE people to delegate and divvy up the work, it was doable. Did I say "team"? I had three people. One of whom had been RE team leader for many years and was burnt out, one who was so busy at work she had no time to give, and one who turned down my request to teach Sunday School because she didn't like working with kids "that age"…meaning kids over the age of 3 and under the age of 18. It took me over a month just to get the team member's schedules coordinated for a meeting and then only one person showed up.
Throughout the year every request (and plea) for help with projects/events was either ignored ("I'm sorry, I rarely check my email/phone messages") or dismissed ("I'm going to be out of town and/or busy at work").

Way back in August of last year, after I had time to look over all the responsibilities that I was taking on, and I had already begun to suspect that my team was going to be less than cooperative, I sat down with my SO in our kitchen and literally cried "I can't do this."
I was scared out of my mind. Scared of the kids. Scared of the responsibility. Scared of screwing up, making mistakes, and being labeled as 'incompetent' and unfit for the job. I seriously considered calling up my Pastor the next day and telling her to find someone else to fill the position.
But then I saw the dominos begin to fall.
I was coming to the terrifying realization that maybe I wasn't meant to be a minister. If I was afraid of working with kids, afraid to accept the responsibility of leadership, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of being less than perfect… could I be a pastor?

The fear that I was feeling was real, and it was overwhelming, but there was one thing that scared me more…..the fear of letting everyone down…my pastor, my church, myself.

I decided that I would never forgive myself if I quit without even trying.
I decided to stop looking at the long list of responsibilities and to just take it one day at a time.
I decided that God wouldn't have given me this opportunity if God didn't trust that I could do it….and who am I to question God.
I held my breath, and dived in head first.

As the year went on my confidence grew with each successive event/project that I planned and each Sunday School class that I taught, but with the distraction of finishing up school and applying to seminary, RE was very much a back-burner issue for me….in an "oh crap, it's two days before Christmas and I forgot to get a Santa Claus to hand out gifts for the kids after the Christmas Pageant" kind of way.
Working with the unpredictable and often chaotic nature of large groups of children also had a tendency to dampen my enthusiasm for the role. In plain English: Them kids really did scare the #@*$ out of me.

When I came to the realization that I would have to put seminary on hold for a year, one of the first things that popped into my mind was "damn, now there's no getting out of the second year of my term as RE chair…I have to do it all over again….waahhhhhh!"

Then something strange happened. I started planning Children's Sunday and with all the distractions of school and settling my seminary plans out of the way, I started to have fun.
I didn't even bother to ask my team for help. I asked the parents to do little things here and there and they stepped up. The dreaded 'rehearsal' was a blast. The day itself went wonderfully and even though mistakes were made no one noticed and/or cared. Two long-time members told me that it was the best Children's Sunday our church has ever had.

Now I'm caught up in organizing our Summer Enrichment program, events for the kids over the summer, including a Harry Potter party and a Scavenger Hunt Picnic, recruiting teachers for next year, and more immediately, working on a service with the high school youth for July 1st.
Oh, and did I mention that I'm preaching on July 8th?

My creative pipelines are flowing at capacity right now. Which is why I'm having trouble sleeping. My eyes pop open in the wee hours of the morning and I start thinking: "Oh we have to get a cauldron for the punch at the Harry Potter party" or "it would be nice if the high school youth did the children's sermon next week" or "I need to go to Wal-Mart to get supplies for the Summer Enrichment games."

I spent four hours at the church yesterday cleaning and organizing the RE closet…and I enjoyed it. I couldn't wait to do it. I spent the entire previous night thinking about sorting magic markers and colored pencils and which plastic organizing bin would work best…perhaps a multi-draw unit with a handle so the teachers can carry all their supplies easily…..oh and labels! I need to bring the label maker!"

It's a sickness, I know.

Some people are manic-depressive.
I'm a manic-creative/organizer.

Now, I'm off to Wal-Mart….they're having a sale on plastic storage bins!!


SassyFemme said...

Hmmm, should I expect to run into you at one of the teacher stores now? :)

eileen said...

I know that kind of mania well - yes I do!

Glad you are feeling up, creative and excited. (((Mo)))

Mrs. M said...

All of this is important, but somehow that video is really, really touching.