Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Finding Direction in the Unexpected

Going into week three of city hosting, I was extremely confident. After some extreme conflict with my map during staff training, I felt we had resolved some major issues and a summer love had started to bloom. Directions were starting to become really fun for me. Oh, Map 54 K-1 to Map 58 B-2 you say? Challenge accepted. I also felt like I had been doing an exceptional job being able to connect with each of the two unique groups I had the previous weeks. To top it all off, I was having so much fun serving alongside my groups at all the different ministry sites. So as week three was approaching, I was on my high horse. I was made for this job. It couldn’t be easier for me. Little did I know.

This would be an interesting week, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Like I said, I was made for this job. I had it down.  I can handle challenges presented by other people. I’m flexible. I’m available. I can be teachable.  Definitely F.A.T.

Come Thursday, I realized that I was the most challenging part of the week. The students and leaders were needing to be F.A.T. for me and not the other way around. I had misread the schedule and thought we weren’t supposed to be at our next site until 1, not the actual time we were supposed to be there, 12:30, and currently, I had led our group to I have no idea, New Jersey. We miraculously arrived but 45 minutes late. When we got there I escaped to the bathroom and sat in a stall crying. I had officially given myself the “World’s Worst Host” title. I know what you’re thinking. Overreaction. Late one day? It happens. But did I mention we had arrived 30 minutes late to our site the previous day courtesy of , you guessed it, me? I like to blame it on the vortex of what is the Ben Franklin Parkway of Philly, but if I am being real, I just use that as a means to not dent my pride.

My students were starting to notice. When students start to notice, it is not a good sign. And they started to only remember all the times I got them lost, and not the times I actually got them places in a timely manner and with no wrong turns. Those times outweighed our lost times, but they didn’t remember that. I had to finish strong. I had to prove that I knew where I was going. It was Friday. If I finished this day without messing up, then they would only remember that last day. A good day. Our first site that day was 30 minutes outside Philly. Okay, that’s fine. I have directions. We missed one turn, and we immediately got back on track, but the kids didn’t miss that wrong turn for a second. We got back to the city fine for the most part. They got to explore the city on their own for a few hours that afternoon. I only had one major place left to get them that night. Our restaurant. It was only 2 main turns from Old City Philly. Easy enough.

“Kathleen, do you know where you’re going?” “Yes.”

15 minutes later we were on the Ben Franklin Bridge to New Jersey. This officially made it the worst week of my life. Really, God? You were supposed to throw me a bone here. Instead, I am now in New Jersey. I was really beginning to hate New Jersey. It gave me nothing but trouble. We eventually joined the groups at dinner. Late. I was so discouraged. I did not want to hand out those CSM evaluations that night. I didn’t want to know what they had to say.

Still super discouraged and with a bruised ego, I reluctantly gave them their CSM evaluations. What I read that night after they were all turned in was not what I expected at all. I can’t tell you how many students wrote how much they appreciated me and my hard work. They noted my directions weren’t perfect, but they still appreciated me. And they still got so much out of all the sites. What? How? It was God’s way of telling me, “Chin up, my dear. You are relying too much on yourself.  There is no way this summer is going to work if you keep that up. No, this week wasn’t perfect. And you messed up a lot. You’re not perfect, but that’s okay because I am. And I will use all of your mistakes for good. And I did. And I will continue.” What started as the most discouraging week of my life ended with so much encouragement. I was so humbled. I fully expect more challenging weeks like this to come. Fortunately, God can use my mistakes as much as my victories.

Now I can look back say, “hey, remember that time I accidentally led a group into New Jersey?” and laugh. I mean somebody had to cross that bridge first (pun intended).

But the group that comes in on Sunday doesn’t have to know about that. Thank God for fresh starts. Never again will I underestimate 2 Corinthians 5:17. The old has gone. The new has come. Because really, the new group is coming, and as far as they are concerned, I am a directions expert. 

- Kathleen, CSM Philadelphia Summer 2012 City Host

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Courtney said...

Kathleen! Thank you for your humility and authentic words. I am so thankful to hear that the group was kind and encouraging. Funny how we can get so overwhelmed with the little details (directions) - when in the grand scheme of things - everything's perfectly alright.

Praying today that you continue to grow on this journey and that you are at peace with the whole directions element. Know that God is right there beside you through each and every group this summer.

tim said...

Great post! Can't wait to arrive in Philly this Sunday with my group from Ky!