I can be a little bit of an intense and serious person, and a good portion of my day-to-day life is spent looking at spreadsheets and calendars (as I’m sure is true for most of you). I spend a lot of time sending emails and going to meetings that could have been emails. We plan curriculum and events by the semester and are intentional about everything from 3-year goals, to 6-year curriculum cycles, to 4-week rotations; everything is color-coded and categorized; and we work really hard to have theological depth, organizational excellence, pedagogical effectiveness, relevance, and integrity in all we do.
I took a vacation last week and explored San Francisco and Northern California with my husband and some friends, and when I came back this week, I thought of all the spreadsheets and phone calls and emails waiting for me. I landed at 4:00 pm on Saturday, and by 6:45 pm I was at a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was talking to a mom about how well her daughter had done. She thanked me for coming and said, “I don’t know how you do it!”
And, in a moment of unnecessary honesty, I said, “Spreadsheets. It takes a couple different spreadsheets.”
When I was back in the office on Monday, I did all my spreadsheets and emails, ready to dive back into the grind, but then something else happened, something very different. I joked around with Matt and Brenda about our “Falloween Party” (a combo fall party and Halloween party) and planned what silly games we wanted to do with it, testing some of them in office (how hard is it really to paint with your toes? What if you were blindfolded?) and set up a funny Instagram promotional post with our 5 foot stuffed Batman wearing an infinity scarf and posing with some leftover children’s carnival hay and pumpkins. I wrote a long-asked-for lesson about a passage in 2 Kings where the prophet Elisha sends two she-bears to maul children for making fun of his bald head (it’s not a particularly good lesson by the way, but it is funny). In all of the things I worked on, all of my job that was so much more than spreadsheets and emails, I remembered: my job was fun. Because of course it was, right? I work in youth ministry! How could it not be fun?
Turns out it’s pretty easy to not have fun at almost anything. It’s choosing to find delight in life that takes work. I had a lot of reminders this week that we are all called to live into our vocations well, and intentionally, and thoroughly, but also joyfully, and creatively, and in a way that acknowledges the goodness of being alive. I have a particularly easy job for that, one that lends itself to remembering that life is supposed to be abundant, and centered on community, but let me put it this way: if I can find a way to make my job not fun, you can find a way to make yours full of life.
There will always be spreadsheets and emails and meetings and office politics and frustration and stress and death and sickness and fear. We will always be called to face things that are more than we can cope with.
But in Christ, we are given a gift, not just in salvation from that death and hurt in eternity, but pockets of heaven, glimpses of the divine imbued in the very world around us. In our homes, in our workplaces, and yes, even here at church, flashes of light break up the darkness, and to minimize them or ignore them because of the darkness that persists is to ignore the ways that God is setting signal fires for us, encouraging us on in the work of being God’s people in the world.
So I hope you’ll trick-or-treat with your little ones, or tear up as your baby leaves for their first homecoming, or enjoy making soup and wearing fuzzy socks at home when the weather is bad. Dance in your living room, take your vacation days, leave your laptop at work, and believe that the spreadsheets and the emails aren’t what shape your life — the hope you have in a God that promises abundant life, delight, joy, and salvation does.
Have a fun and happy Halloween everyone, and feel free to join us for our Falloween party and watch teenagers try to paint with their feet (still undecided on the blindfolds).
Director of Youth Ministries