In my position I have the opportunity to do many things. I work with all ages of people as teacher, counselor, administrator, creative director, spiritual guide, and the list goes on and on. I have a distinct disadvantage. I am 24. I am a woman who will admit my age, and often to my dislike thought to be much younger than I am. I look at it as a welcome challenge and a major frustration.
I could actually be in the only field where being older and more experienced works to your advantage rather than disadvantage. Last night I was working with a group of adults where I was the youngest person in the room. While this does not bother me, when I’m the one that is teaching, and being looked to for experience, they look at me and go “yeah right.” Truth be told, I have 10 years experience in Catholic Catechesis, but who is really going to believe a 24 year old that a parish was willing to enlist the aid of a 14yr old who hasn’t been Confirmed.
I gave my little mini lesson as one of four speakers. People genuinely thanked me for my lesson. It felt good but also a bit daunting looking at a group of married professionals that most could either be my parents or grandparents.
On the other end of the spectrum I work heavily with adolescents. After 15 hours of running around with kids, I find myself exhausted but still wanting more. Many people when they look at Youth Ministers see the active part of it and after a long day like that, I rarely want to be found in my office the next day. Sometimes I act like the adult I am and make it in, other times I just say yes to my blankets and sleep in. *Disclaimer* I usually have it approved that I can take a day off if I say yes to my blankets, given notice and they know I’m not coming in.
On those dates I do take off, I ask myself, “When did I get old?” I was in the shoes of the students I work with not too long ago and just got out of college. When did I finally say no to late nights with early mornings and bouncing off the walls continuously without the help of caffeine? I never liked coffee and now the allure is there. I have yet to cave in and buy a coffee machine. I’m proud of myself.
But to the shock of finally hitting the in between stages of my life I am finding comfort in two separate sections of the Bible. The first comes from the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah even had some problems realizing that he was being called to a life of service to God. Jeremiah struggled with his age in a very patriarchal society. God instructed him “Say not, ‘I am too young’ to whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them because I am with you to deliver you says the Lord.” Jer. 1: 7-8
Although God doesn’t fill me in so succinctly as He did Jeremiah, I still take heart. Although I may not have the most experience or have a couple of extra years under my belt. They will come and I will earn respect. Until then I will be working hard with the youth and my peers. Just don’t expect me to be keeping up with the Jones’.