I just sent out a prayer letter to our support team that includes this story:
When I was a student at Northern Arizona University, I was a new, young Christian and the ministry of InterVarsity provided opportunities for me to learn how to study the bible, how to have Christian friendships, and how to follow Christ amidst the often times rough stages of young adulthood. I had never done those things before, and I can’t imagine being successful at them without the ministry and staff and fellowship that came alongside to disciple me!
InterVarsity at NAU also invited me into many ministry and leadership opportunities that I wasn’t quite ready to say yes to, and I completed my degree with some regrets for this reason, yet somehow (read: Jon) I found myself applying to work as an InterVarsity staff several years after having graduated college. I heard God’s call and this time, I said yes.
While my career as a student in InterVarsity at NAU was a time for ‘finding my sea legs’ as a Christian, my career as a staff at the U of A has been a time to experience many of the things I said ‘no’ to as a student. Over the last five years I have evangelized, prayed, preached, led a team of students to China, developed leaders, and discipled in ways I had only ever heard others talk about. Most importantly, I have known God in these things. (Luke 10:18-20)
We talk a lot about the ministry of InterVarsity transforming students’ lives, but the reality is that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship also transforms staffs’ lives – at least it did mine.
I am now hearing God’s voice inviting me to leave staff work, if only for a season. And although I have grieved deeply over the decision to give this up, I have said ‘yes’. I am being sent to my family, my neighbors and my church and am ready to pray, evangelize and serve because the ministry of InterVarsity has equipped me to do so.
I will continue to be connected to the ministry, of course through Jon, and know my days of feeding students home-cooked meals and praying for our campus here in Tucson are not nearly over with, nor are our plans to continue to lead students on summer Global Projects. We are a family devoted to the ministry of InterVarsity and ultimately to the Kingdom of God, even though my role will be looking differently for the next couple of years.
Here are the five strongest emotions I have been feeling in this process, some of them harder to admit than others.
1) Sorrow. I have cried a lot this spring, just ask Jon about the time he walked in on me bawling my eyes out in the bathtub.
To say that I love my work in InterVarsity is an understatement.
To say that I love the students in my chapter, past and present, is an understatement.
To say that I want to reach the thousands on our campus with the gospel is an understatement.
In a way, I am having to let go of my babies, my spiritual sons and daughters. Some of my best friends over the last six years that we have been in Tucson have been female college students. While I believe with 100% assurance that I am making the right decision it has caused me to cry many tears and broken my heart.
2) Fear. While juggling multiple jobs and giving so much to a ministry, it has been easy to justify the ways that I have failed. But without ministry consuming so much of my time and energy, I am terrified that I won’t have an excuse for being a bad mom. I won’t have that holy sacrifice to explain the many imperfections I feel I have as a mother. I am afraid that it hasn’t actually been my busy schedule that has created all these maternal faults in me, but rather I am just not gifted in the area of raising children. I know all about how ridiculous “mommy guilt” is, but that doesn’t make it any less real of a struggle.
3) Unsatisfied. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t love playing candyland 6 times in a row every day of the week. I don’t love hauling kids around. I don’t love cleaning. I know and have really experienced how precious of a ministry motherhood is and love my kids more than words can describe, yet I still battle the day to day work involved. I like my work on campus. I am good at it. I feel gifted in areas of preaching and leading and encouraging and praying; I am worried about feeling unfulfilled.
4) Resentment. Being someone who leans more towards the egalitarian interpretation of women in the church and home (shocker, right?!), I am worried that I will grow to resent that Jon gets to continue on in ministry while I stay home with the kiddos. This is silly, especially given that Jon has been my biggest supporter, constantly bending over backwards so that I can be on campus and this was completely my choice. However, I recognize it as a real possibility to feel this way next year.
5) Peace. And this only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit amidst these other overwhelming emotions of fear, resentment, and sorrow, and from knowing that I made this decision based on the Lord’s leading. I know that God will care for my heart in this, because he is a Good Shepherd. I am also hopeful for the peace we will have in our home as a result of this decision!
I referenced times when it was hard to say ‘yes’ to God in my prayer letter, and this has been one of them, however I am confident in the Lord’s faithfulness to me, to the ministry and to my family because He alone is Good!