I have repeated this statement so many times over the past 14 months. Tonight I finally said it to my youth group. We have been talking a lot about how to “share your story” as a Christian. A lot of my kids do not have huge life-changing stories to share about their faith; neither do I. So tonight I told them my call story.
God has worked in my life like a flowing stream, nothing earth shattering, but God has always has an ever-present existence in everything that I have done. I told them about how I started my career as a band director, fell in love, and got married all in the same year…right out of college. I told them that I liked teaching band but never really loved it. About how I tried to go to graduate school for music education but hated it and quit. That I took an additional part time job at a church and finally found something that I truly loved to do. I told them that I loved every kid that I ever taught, but that teaching those same kids about character was more important to me than if they ever won a band competition. That I came to a point in my life that I had to make a choice: continue to teach in public schools or pursue a career in ministry full time.
I chose ministry.
I chose youth ministry. I accepted the job and followed God’s calling to Saint Luke.
I told them that my husband and I continued to grow apart year after year. As our career choices changed; we also changed. After I came to Saint Luke I was so happy and at peace with following the call to ordained ministry, but that peace did not exist in our marriage. I told the kids tonight that it was very painful. It was hard to make that decision to end that life, to break that vow, and to lose that friend. I told them that for me, it was very difficult to know that I had failed at marriage, or at least this one, but I also wanted them to know that things always don’t work out the way we planned it. I wanted to tell them this story because I wanted them to see that God’s presence never failed me the whole time.
God was present every time I had to repeat the sentence, ”I have separated from my husband. I am getting divorced.”
God was present in my gradual acceptance of it.
God was present in the kindness, love, and affirmation that I have gotten from every person that I have told.
God was present when no one said anything judgmental to me at all.
God was present when I received more empathy than I could ever imagine.
God was present when my family surrounded me with love.
God was present when my friends made me laugh.
God was present when my Saint Luke family – especially my coworkers and their wonderful youth counselors who have embraced me with friendship.
God was present when the kids in my youth group were there every week to be wonderful, giving, and joyful people.
I told them that even though not all of them knew what was going on, they blessed my life by their presence. That they have been some of the best parts of my last 14 months. That their love has meant more to me than they will ever know. That they were showing God’s love.
They were so sweet during all of it. I told them that my divorce will be final this week, so I’m going back to my maiden name. I just felt like they should hear the actual story from me instead of “through the grapevine” after people start figure out what’s going on. I love these kids. They are by far the best part of my week.
Oh and then one of my middle school boys told me I should make a profile on ChristianMingle.com. (Which by the way is NOT HAPPENING.)
Photo courtesy of @RabbitEarJones
Republished with permission of the author; original post here.
Carrie Carpenter is currently serving as Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Saint Luke United Methodist Church in Sanford, North Carolina. She is a Certified Candidate for Ordination as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church. You can follow her journey in ministry at anewfandamethodist.wordpress.