Tuesday, July 14, 2015

As this internship closes...

It is absolutely unreal that this internship is almost over! It's been a year and a half since I started this journey and I can't believe where it has taken me. It's hard for me to see and admit how I have changed over the course of that time, but I can tell you this has been a season of redemption and re-aligning my life with Christ. I am unrecognizable as a person compared to who I was a year ago.

I gave my life to Christ a few years ago. I still remember the moment I had my arms in the air surrendering everything to Him in worship the night before my Granddad passed away. I had no idea that that night at Shift would be that night. I had no idea what I was doing in that moment would change the direction of my life. Almost two years later I found myself working as an intern at Flatirons contemplating if I had actually given my life to Christ. Almost 11 months after starting the internship program I have realized not only have I surrendered everything to His power but I have a whole new life in Christ – I am a new creation.

The biggest change I've seen in myself has been in my attitude. I've learned when I need to ask for help and that asking doesn't mean that I have failed at anything. Admitting I don't know something and that I need help figuring it out makes me a better leader. I've learned to be okay with doing something I'm not good at and learning how to do it better. I've learned how to lean on God for everything in my life and not just the good or easy things. It's never been easy for me to trust God with my relationships, my employment, or my money, but I feel like I did a decent job of trying to figure out what that looks like this year. I'm somehow more equipped to recognize how God is working in my life and what is actually the enemy disguising himself in God's light.

My attitude toward the church has changed as well in the best way possible. The theme of 2015 for me has been Can over Can't. I can do all things because of Him, not "I can't be with you, do that, wear this, or see that because of some reason I'm not entirely sure of." I may not always be the happiest, nicest, most put together, or politically correct person in this building but I know I have changed and can stand firm knowing my value. I don't hang out with certain people because I want something better, not because some church said I can't do something. #sorrynotsorry to those who aren't in my life because of that. 

In this internship I have learned what it really means to do "ministry”. 

Pre-internship: I thought being in ministry/being a minster meant standing on an oversized stage telling people how to live their lives. 

As the internship closes, I realize that ministry isn't a job it's a way of life. If it becomes a job, then I need to rethink how I'm "doing ministry". It's, well, a ministry. There are times where it feels like even on my days off I’m not “off”.  I’m still fielding questions, texts and phone calls, and attempting to not check my email. Rest has always been something that has been difficult for me, but this season has taught me how necessary it is and I’m learning to do it. Sometimes better than others!

I also see my ministry as a family. As most of you know, my family is far from normal. Of course, I have dealt with some of the most difficult and crazy situations with them since starting my internship. Lara told me even though I might feel like I don't know why all of this is happening to me now, God has had me right where he wanted me all along. People here have asked me tough questions, told me the truth even when it hurts, and were gracious enough to care about me while I'm hurting. I don't know how I could have dealt with some of these situations without the support and love of my friends and family in this building. 

Ministry with students doesn't just happen on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights. It's text messages on Christmas Eve from a student whose great grandma is sick and knows I would understand because my grandma is sick too. It's being vulnerable and sharing my story with high schoolers in hopes that they accept me, open up to me and invite me into their story. It's being outside myself during a traumatic time in my life to be there for students who are experiencing trauma so large it makes you feel so, so small. It's sharing super embarrassing pictures and stories of myself from high school to make your students feel less awkward. It's being so tired that you are delirious and slap happy for days after you're home from camp because you stayed up too late eating ice cream, woke up too early, and played way too much ultimate frisbee. 

Caring for my leaders is just as equally important as caring for the students. Stepping into this internship I knew that if I was going to live out of this new life that Christ had given me I was going to need new friends. My old life was so toxic and scary that I knew that most of the people in my life were going to get the boot. Whether I kicked them out or they stepped out, and whether it was intentional or not, that definitely happened. Not only did I know that part of my ministry was going to be building community with the west campus leaders, I knew I needed new friends and new people to do life with. In the beginning my motivation was super selfish but it took on a whole new life of it's own the more comfortable I got with what I was doing.

Leader care isn't just driving, coffee and lunch dates. It's being with like-minded adults when they are sick, hurting and confused and helping them serve our students better. It's writing a billion and one cards for all occasions not because I have to but because I truly want to. It's finding a common ground and continuing that new life in Christ with wonderful people who (in my case) also happen to love shooting guns. It's waking up way too early to run multiple half marathons because we are too wimpy to run a full. Leader care gives a new meaning to being "on call". 

The Best and Worst Parts

As the first (and only) West Campus intern I got to be the guinea pig for a lot of things and I loved it. I also got to be a part of a lot of really cool things at West. Helping Ben launch student ministry was probably one of the biggest and greatest things I have ever gotten to witness. It has been such a fun and humbling experience to see this ministry grow because the leaders are becoming friends and students are getting close to each other. 

Another one of the best parts of the internship is being part of a team. My previous work environment was not healthy and teamwork didn't exist. It was everyone against everyone else, seeing coworkers work together and support each other was something I hadn't seen before. Since my time was split between kids and student ministry and I was at West Campus, I had three teams on my side that became my new family here at Flatirons. There were a lot of moments where I felt super connected with one team, but left out from another. While navigating that was not easy most of the time, I felt that it gave me a different advantage during the internship. I was able to see how all of the ministries at West Campus ran and how they all worked together. I learned a lot.

I was a part of the West Campus team for our first Christmas, the one year anniversary celebration, as well as #flatironsunplugged when we experienced the power outage. That morning was by far one of the coolest moments I have ever experienced at church. Not just seeing how all of the staff and volunteers worked together to put that service together, but also how much of a turning point it was for the community of our campus. 

I know this year wasn't perfect, but I am having a really hard time thinking of what the worst parts of this internship were. The parts that I think of when I think of what was "bad" about this internship were waking up early, sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day and being in charge of what I was supposed to wear to work every day. Those things all sound really, really stupid but since I have worked in restaurants for so long they were legitimate concerns coming into this internship. I still struggle waking up early sometimes, but 9 am doesn't scare me as much as it used to! I love that for the first time in my life I lived in a real house, however the intern house is definitely one place where "Excellent Environments" do not exist. As thankful as I am to have lived there I am happy to be moving on, and I know I never want to live with 4 other women ever again. 

One of the best and the worst moments I had was when I realized how much of a terrible leader I used to be. It sucked, but it definitely made me a lot more conscious of my actions and words as a leader moving forward and improved my relationships with those I was leading. Another one of those best/worst moments was realizing that this new life I had in Christ wasn't going to look the same as my old life. Shocker, right? I could no longer be two different people. I was not able to hide things like I used to. I wasn't a Christian by day and conformer-to-society by night. I was a Christian, a youth worker, an intern, and a ministry worker 24/7. One of the best things and also worst things that came out of that was the “friend cleanse” I mentioned before.

I have learned that there is a life outside of waiting tables and being "the beer bitch", and the new life is oh SO good. I have also learned that even though I don't want to do it again, it is possible to live with 4 other women and share an office with them. Most importantly, the best thing I can continue to do is to love God, love people, and lead well. I've learned how to love different people in different ways, and also that love doesn't always look like what I think it should look like. I've learned how to pray for those in need and ask for prayer for myself and for my family. I've learned not only how to lead people, but lead people well. I know God has had his hands on every interaction I have had in the last 11 months and will continue to be a part of my life after the internship.

I know I have a new life. My life didn't just change direction, it became new in HIM. I have no fear that I will go back to all of my old destructive friends and habits because I have a new and improved support system that won't let me cross that path. I am so confident in His love for me that I know no matter where I wind up I will be the best me that I can be, because God created me. 

I am so incredibly thankful that I have gotten to be a part of the Flatirons family as an intern, and even more thankful for those here that helped me get to where I am now. While it is bittersweet for this internship to be ending, I am so excited for my new role and what the future holds. In Philippians 1:6 Paul says:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 
I feel like I rarely complete things or finish them well, but I thank God every day that I am able to do both of these things with my internship and be able to move forward doing something I love. I know how good God is and couldn't imagine my life without His goodness and the hearts of everyone here who has helped me see it and live it out!

No comments:

Post a Comment