This past June I ended my job as a campus minister with InterVarsity at UNC-Chapel Hill working with sorority and fraternity students (also known as Greek IV). It is the only job I have had since graduating college up until now. The best short description I can give for the job was that I would meet with Greek students that wanted to influence their Greek chapters for Christ, and train them in doing so. Others on staff with Greek IV know that is far too simplistic a definition, as it is a job where we wore many hats. Greek IV was a significant part of growing my faith in my college years so I was eager to continue to expand the vision after graduating by working full time with this organization. Last spring I had made the prayerful decision to end my time on staff after doing it for 4 years, and shortly after found out I was pregnant.
I had always planned on being a stay at home mom, it had been the job I’ve wanted since I was in middle school. So for the past several months I’ve been transitioning from full time minister, to full time mom! On the outside, it may seem like I have just started a job that is so entirely different then the one I left. And in many ways it is! The students I worked with in ministry did not wake me up in the middle of the night every night (things would not have fared well for them if they did), did not need me to change their diapers, or watch them all times of the day. Riley cannot engage with me in spiritual discussions or read scripture with me and pray. I have gone from asking questions every day in my job like, “where are you seeing God at work in the Greek system? What areas of your life do you want to see transformed?” To asking, “Do you have a diapy (my slang for diaper)? Are you hungy (mommy slang for hungry)? Can I wiggle your wittle toes?” So yea, different :). But for the past few days I have been thinking about some of the ways that being a minister and being a mom have actually been very similar:
- Both jobs require comforting others in tears
- Both are unappreciated jobs. Rarely will you hear the words “thank you.” You do a lot of hard work that is not recognized by those receiving.
- You are investing in the long term, while still having to manage somewhat seemingly miniscule tasks on a daily basis. You read, ask advice, and plan on what you want to eventually see happen in these lives. Then you invest in individuals, hopeful that it will eventually bear fruit, but you don’t always see it and can be easily tempted to think, “what is the point?”
- Both jobs do not have very lucid boundaries; you feel like you are always working and are unsure if you are ever really “off” work.
- You never really know if you’re doing a good job in either, which makes it easy to feel insecure.
- Both can be lonely. You are on your own, trying to care for an individual(s) to the best of your ability, without always knowing what they need and without anyone to help you. (disclaimer: I am not saying that my husband does not help. He is a HUGE help as all fathers should be, I am simply referring to the daily work of motherhood when I am on my own)
- Both my students and my daughter have absolutely no idea just.how.much I love them.
- For both my students I worked with and my daughter: even on their worst day when they make me want to bang my head against the wall, I would still take a bullet for them in a heartbeat. No question.
- In both you sometimes have to say the hard thing that they don’t want to hear, because you care about them enough to put their best interest above your own desire for them to like you and always be happy with you. (although I haven’t gotten to this point with Riley yet of course. But I know it will inevitably come!)
- In both there are days you just wing it, but you also know that intentionality is very important, albeit exhausting when you cannot guarantee the results.
- I am fiercely protective of the students I worked with and my daughter. If anyone were to say something bad about any of them I get super defensive and mama bear’s claws come out!
- Nothing beats the moment when they tell you something profound they have learned and you see them maturing into beautiful people 🙂
- And perhaps the most difficult similarity in the two: When they are making decisions that you know are destructive, doing things you know will demand consequences that will hurt; you bite your tongue to avoid saying, “I told you so” or lecturing them and simply hold your arms out wide to hold them when they break down and simply utter the words, “I love you no.matter.what.” and “I am here.”
There are tears in my eyes as I reflect on how much I loved my students. Constantly in my thoughts and my prayers, I thank them for allowing me to be a part of their lives and for preparing me for this beautiful, wild journey of motherhood