Friday, December 7, 2012

Closing the Biggest Chapter of my Life (Thus Far)

Today was a bittersweet day. It's the day I closed the largest chapter in the Book of Ashley. It's the longest chapter, the most impacting chapter. It's the chapter that sets the foundation for the rest of the book. As with any good book, it's a chapter I'll revisit frequently, but it's over.

What is this chapter? It's the Youth Group chapter. Tonight was my last night as a youth leader.  I have been a Firewalker for exactly half of my life (thirteen entire years). Every Friday night since just before I turned 13, I've been at youth group. It's the place that has shaped me more than anything else. I would not be who I am, doing what I do, if it hadn't been for youth group. It's where I built a true relationship with God, where I learned about Him and His Word, how to live for Him. It's how I took my first missions trip that started my love of missions. It's the place that took me outside of myself and my family, to build relationships with people different than me, yet united for one thing. It's where I learned how to do ministry. It's been the single biggest, longest running part of my life, and it's ended. While I will always be a Firewalker at heart, I am no longer a youth leader (formally, anyways. I hope they still see me as a leader in their lives). It's a sad night.
(I got my own CakeWreck!! yay!)

But the next chapter is starting. It's a time of transition, of rediscovery, of feeling just a bit lost. What does the rest of the world do on Friday nights?! I don't even know. To give you a little perspective, the last time I had Friday nights free, Boy Meets World was airing new episodes on TGIF every Friday night. Seriously.  I've decided to take the next several weeks to rest and do things that make me happy or build me up- I'm not allowing myself to just sit on the couch with Pinterest and TV! I'm going to DO stuff that is good for me and see what God reveals. Because while I plan to pray and read the Word during this time, I also believe that God speaks to us in many other ways. I'm excited to see what He has for me in this next chapter. If the last chapter was the one that sets the stage for the rest of the story, this chapter coming will be the one where everything changes and gets rearranged. It's exciting and a bit scary. But then, plot twists always are!

I know that some of you who weren't at youth group tonight are probably wondering why I'm leaving, so let me share :) Watching other leaders say their goodbyes always made me think "that'll never be me...until I have babies or something...maybe", so this is seems a little anticlimactic!

About two months ago, our Youth Minister told the team that we were going to take a month to step back and seek God, make sure that we weren't just doing things because we've always been doing them. He told us to really pray and make sure that God still wanted us to be there. Almost immediately, I felt like it was time for me to leave, but I ignored it. I love youth ministry and couldn't imagine not being in youth group (I still can't fully comprehend it). So I did pray about it, but usually while I was doing something else. I was sorta running from God. One thing I've learned from the Bible is that if God wants you to do something, He will get your attention! I mean, Saul/Paul was blinded, Jacob wrestled with God, and Jonah was eaten by a freakin' fish! Thankfully, He didn't go to such extremes to make sure I went where He wanted. Instead, He used a call from my Pastor to confirm everything I'd been struggling with in making this decision.
So I'm leaving youth group.  I still love these teens like crazy, and still want to be a part of their lives, that hasn't changed. But I believe God has something else for me. Something He's designed me for, something that is going to stretch and grow and change me (and others) for the better. I'm not completely sure what it is yet, but I know I can't find it if my time is consumed with other things. So as I mentioned, the next several weeks will be Ashley-time, and then I don't know what's coming. I will be focusing my ministry time on the Children's Ministry and on the Missions Ministry, and really seeking God about what comes next.

This next chapter of my life is going to involve lots of change and hopefully growth, both of which can be disturbing and painful at times, but I'm excited. Without some disturbance, we can't grow, and without growth, we die. I want to live the exciting, vibrant life God imagined for me, that's better than the best story I can write on my own. So I'm going with His plot and we'll see where it ends up! The best stories are always the ones where you don't see the ending coming, and it's better than anything you could dream up on your own.

So to end this long post, let me say a humongous THANK YOU for all the love and messages you Firewalkers sent me tonight. I loved them and I love you guys. I am always here for you. Thank you to the awesome people I've served with these many many years. Its been a blessing serving with you, and I'm just down the hall if you need anything. And thank you to all the leaders who came before me, who led me, who spoke into my life and helped me become who I am today. This has been a great chapter and while it's over, there's still an entire book left to live!

1 comment:

  1. :-) Just saw this. Well-written


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