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Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Year After Marshall

Today (Jan 15, 2012) marks the one year anniversary of me quitting my Youth Ministry job in Marshall, MN.  I've thought a lot about what happened over the last year, why it happened, who its changed me, and where I am in life now because of it.  This post is, for the most part, a reflection and attempt at healing, it is also in part, an apology.

As much as I would like to blame my departure from Marshall mostly on other people, the truth is it had as much to do with me as anyone else.  Yes, I was working long hours with what seemed to be very little support from parents.  Yes, there were people I didn't get along with.  But more than that,  I had no friends and I was homesick--four hours away from my now fiance, and 3 from my family.  I was spiritually dead--I didn't feel a part of the parish or able to upkeep my spirituality.  I missed grad school and the challenge of learning.  I was inconfident in my ability as a youth minister and got very little affirmation I was doing a good job.  All these combined lead me to be depressed, which lead me to be apathetic about how I was doing.  Let's get one thing straight though--I did not leave because of the youth.  They were great, and the reason why I stayed as long as I did.  The reasons I left were because of the parents, the job itself, and even more so because of my personal inadequacies.

My program started to slip, parents began to meet and decide whether I should stay or go.  I think secretly I was looking for a way out, so when the priest came and offered a chance to peacefully resign, I jumped at it, and I was gone two days later.  Without saying goodbye to anyone.

This last part is what I regret the most.  It's not that I was a crappy youth minister, that I didn't do everything I could have done in the program, or even that I realized that's not what I'm called to do as a job--but what I regret the most is that I feel I both ran away and abandoned the youth.

And it is this regret that I am still trying to get over--did I do the right thing, or was leaving in the manner I did cowardly?  I don't really know yet, but i'm working through the answers to some of my questions.  Was going to Marshall in the first place the right decision?  I'm pretty sure it was.  Was leaving Marshall the right decision?  I think it probably was.  What I do know however, is that no matter how much I regret the manner in which I left, if I'm to evaluate the decision based off of the current status of my life, leaving Marhsall is quite possibly the best decision of my life.

In just a year I've gotten engaged to (I can honestly say) the most beautiful woman in the world (an event that probably would not have happened if I had stayed in Marshall), I've completed a semester of my Masters of Arts in Theology program at Saint Paul Seminary, and I'm two weeks into a job that I absolutely love.  I must say, while in Marshall I was nearly miserable, lately I am the happiest that I have ever been.

I still have some healing to do, still have some things to work out in my mind and heart... but now that I'm happy, I can do that.


Alison Duffy said...

I'm so glad you are enjoying STB - and I'm so glad you are healing from Marshall! You are so blessed!

* hmarie said...

I had a similar experience with my administration job for two group homes. Long hours, little pay, no respect. I left in the same manner as you, forgetting to say goodbye to my clients. I still feel horrible about my immediate absence, certain that my DD clients were left confused and sad. However, I am also much happier since leaving and I know if I did not leave in that manner I would have continued to find stupid reasons to stay.

I am glad to hear that you are so much happier now, as that is what matters most. I am certain the kids missed you when you left, but I am also certain they are doing well and will be happy to know you are doing well too.

Great things are in store for you. Keep reaching for them:)

Nadine said...

I LOVE when I get to read such wonderful insightful things from you! (:

So glad that you're working through all that happened in Marshall. All too often, the in-the-moment happenings seem so difficult to deal with, and as if we'll never understand. Time and good people can help you through anything though!