But, God wanted something different.

When Martha asked if I would like to help out with the middle school and high school youth groups, I laughed. Awkwardly.

I love kids. Yes, kids... I could hang out with them all the time! Be silly. Run around like crazy. Ya know, be a kid.

But, teens?? Oh man. That's a whooooole other ball game.  I have such a hard time connecting with them. I didn't grow up with older or younger siblings where I got to witness their teen years. I only have my own to go on! And... I don't remember much!  And THEN to talk about God and Jesus and His church and all things Catholic. Oh, and make it sound cool and relatable.

Um... no, thanks.

Well, that's what I wanted to say. But, God wanted something different.

You see.  I am part of my parish. I am part of the family. I have never been part of a parish before. Up to that point I really thought I belonged because I was writing my check every week, dropping the envelope in the basket as it went by, smiling and hugging the people I knew at the end of Mass. (Ha. Such a weird sense of belonging and being part of a family.)

All the while I was thirsting for community. I was complaining that I didn't know anyone and didn't have anything to do and had such a boring life! Oh... whoa is me.

An awesome prayer service with the teens.
So, enter in Mart asking about helping with youth group. Not exactly what I had in mind... but my parish needed me. My family needed me. So, of course I said yes.  It's an interesting thing, working with the teens.  They are a crazy, hormonal, loud, beautiful, lovely, Jesus-thirsting generation. They have so many things coming at them from so many directions in their daily lives.  Who am I to help them know God better?!

I am me.  That is all they need me to be. Even if I don't know what to say or have the right answer or say something they don't think is funny, I am being me. Genuinely me. I am there for them. Loving them where they are at.  Praying for them.  Living my life the best way that I can, so they are (hopefully!) being inspired to live theirs the best way they can, too.

Around the same time, I signed up to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. It had been on my heart for a while, and I was so excited to do it. I could talk about that in it's own post, and maybe someday I will, but for now I will say it is one of the most humbling things I am privileged to do. Seriously.

It's in serving my parish in this way, I realized something. I realized that the teens need to see me as an active member of their community. Of their family. I mean, who do they see mostly? The old people and the families... right? Let's be honest, not many of us single, young people are really that involved in our parishes. First, not many of us even have one where we are registered. We hop from one place to another, depending on what's going on.  How cool is it when we see young people involved and serving their community? It's awesome!

And then I realized something else... everyone needs to see young people involved.  The more they see youngins', the more they will realize we do care. We are invested. We want to be part of the family. We want to serve you.

So, as much as I don't think I am the youth ministry "type," I will continue go every week. I will continue to be awkward. I will continue to love them. I will continue to just be me. And serve... my family. My community.

All because God wanted something different.  Does He want something different for you?


  1. Love this! I so appreciated youth leaders who were a few years ahead of me in life, and now that I'm a young single in my church, I'm finding that I need to get involved for everyone's sake. For the babies I hold in the nursery, for their parents who gratefully sit through church, for the teenagers coming up behind me, and for my fellow young singles. Great post!

  2. Jen, after working in high school ministry for two years I can say that you are spot on!

  3. I know exactly what you mean about younger people not really belonging to a parish community. In fact, I've had a post kicking around in my drafts box for awhile now about "parish hopping" and why I don't get it. My life has gotten so much better since I committed myself to getting more involved in my parish community and I'm so glad that I did.

    By the way, I pretty much just read your whole blog in one sitting. It is excellent.

  4. When I started as a lector I thought very similar thoughts of running because standing in front of people is my worst nightmare. Then my friend asked me to be part of retreat planning committee and I learnt things about myself so yeah while I prefer the background, God wants something different. Great post!!!!

  5. I LOVE this post so much. And not just because you're a great volunteer :)

    I love this because self-gift is the essence of love, and it's such a growth in love to do something that makes you a little uncomfortable for the sake of the other. I love that you call SJE your family because that's what a parish should feel like!

    When I was younger and single I didn't join a parish, I didn't help with ministries, I wasn't a catechist or help with youth ministry or anything else - I just went to parishes to see what I could get. I love that you are not that way. It's really inspiring.


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