On being done

Today, I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This week's prompt: Done.

Sobbing During The Faith Goodbye

My boss, Joe, walked me up to my office at the end of a long Sunday. It was a good but emotional day; My last as the youth pastor at Faith Lutheran Church.

We stood in my office as Joe surveyed the carnage. It was clean (enough)… And yet still filled with a decade’s worth of youth ministry supplies that belonged to the church.

I handed Joe my keys and credit card and we walked out of the building together.

I was done.

I expected to feel some semblance of relief. The decision to leave came after weeks (some might even say months) of gut-wrenching prayer. It came after I received an unexpected (and very good) job offer at another church that I’m genuinely excited by.

And yet, when I walked out of the church for the last time and realized I was done, all I felt was grief: Heart-wrenching, soul-sucking grief.

Leaving a church job is unlike leaving any other kind of job. Not only does your schedule go from full to empty in a matter of minutes, but so, too does your social life. In one fell swoop, I lost trusted colleagues, friends, my church community, and the only faith community my daughter has ever known.

I woke up the next day and felt untethered. Rather than feel elation at my three-and-a-half weeks off, I felt unglued.

In the week since then, my grief has continued. Oh, there have been good days, too, don’t get me wrong. There has been laughter and joy and the discovery that the friendships that matter will continue.

Perhaps my daughter said it best. On the night before our final Sunday at Faith, my husband and I sat down to prepare our daughter for what the next day would entail. We explained that we’d be called forward for a blessing and that mommy would likely be in tears (I was) and that others might also cry because they were sad to see us go. That’s when my daughter, with more wisdom than she should possess, looked me straight in the eye and said, “That’s okay mommy. We’ll still love them.”

That’s the thing.

Really, truly, leaving a church job is unlike leaving any other because the relationships you have – with colleagues and parishioners alike - are deep. They’re rooted in the love of Jesus. 

But those don’t end… Even when a church job is done.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

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