So, I sent these files to a coworker at who I’ve had issues with in the past. She emailed me back and requested some “small” changes. Yes, technically they were small changes but they were annoying to do and, quite frankly, I didn’t think I should. I didn’t want to. It was a simple cut-and-paste job, but very nitpicky and specific. This is what I hear in my head: [link removed].
But I’m sitting here at my desk making these changes, and I’m arguing with myself. This is stupid, why am I doing this? Because she asked me? In fact, yes, but here’s the clincher: I didn’t want to lose my job. She’s not my boss. In fact, my time there is coming to a close (hopefully) this fall. But still, the thought was there: if I don’t make her happy, I’ll get fired.
Why did I think this? When I was at my last church, the one that fired me, I had been having weekly meetings with my supervisor (not the one who fired me, the one who said he “could have gone either way” with the decision) and they hadn’t been going well. There were things that he wanted me to do that I didn’t do, and things I wanted to do that weren’t “approved.” I was all ready to come in that morning, have a staff meeting, and then have my meeting with him and try to work it out. Instead, I got fired.
So, now I have this need to please people. It’s a very specific fear. It only relates to church supervisors.
As I realized this, I wanted to cry. (I didn’t, because I’m at work, and as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t cry at work.) It’s been… two and a half years. Both supervisors have moved out of the state. I am no longer paranoid any time I see a man that looks like that pastor or has a voice that sounds like his – these things used to freeze me up. Not full-blown panic attacks, but I would be paralyzed. This doesn’t happen to me anymore. I think I could drive through that city if I wanted to. When I saw the secretary at a concert this spring, I really enjoyed it and didn’t have any setbacks – in fact, that meeting helped me really get over the whole thing because she told me they were without any pastors, etc. I think I could even hold on a fairly pleasant (albeit superficial) conversation with the woman who took my place.
But I’m still messed up. How long does it take to get over something like that?
On a related (and yet not) note, I’ve been thinking of getting out of church-based youth ministry. I still feel called to work with youth, and it’s really one of the few things that bring me pleasure. But lately I’ve been realizing all the things about myself that make it so hard, especially the church-specific stuff. For instance, I’m really task-oriented, and youth ministry really isn’t like that. I try to be people-oriented, but I’m not. I don’t like making first contacts, or calling people on the phone, working the crowd, or even crowds in general. I thrive in environments where my job is clearly defined and I can tell at any moment whether I am doing it or not, and if I’m doing it well. I need a little free range to be creative, but basically I want to be told what to do (within some limits, of course). Ministry just isn’t like that.
Why do I do it? I love teenagers, I really do. I love talking with them, helping them solve problems, hearing their stories, and just being around them. And I love studying the Bible and being able to share and teach what I’ve learned. That really gets me going (which is why I get so frustrated at youth group when the kids just aren’t paying attention). I love the safe environment of a church – by that, I mean that I can pretty much tell where people are coming from and what they’re going to say, and that they’re going to act in accordance with a specific code.
I’m trying to figure out if that’s OK with me, to not do ministry, or at least to not do church ministry. What am I supposed to do with my life then? This job at the state, while I’m good at it, being an administrative assistant, making copies, organizing files, updating the web site, is not what I want to do with the rest of my life. And I think… can I say this without offending anyone?… I’m better than that. A college degree is not needed for this job. Neither is intelligence, really, beyond the simple. And I work at the administrative office, which means I don’t even see clients walk through our doors, and while I know that my work enables others to serve clients, it’s so far away. And I’m not terribly passionate about people with disabilities.
It comes back to the question, what am I supposed to do with my life? For such a long time I had it figured out. And now I don’t know at all. I could really just get married and have kids and stay home and raise them and be happy with that (I think). However, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen in the next few years (although I’m open – now accepting applications for position of: husband).
Is this really what being 20-something is about? If it is, it sucks.