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Confessions: A Dream, Reality, And Hope

As of October 5th, I have been given the privilege of being the Director of Children, Youth, and Family ministry at our church. So, I'm just about eight weeks into the experience, and I am in love. I am in love with the people I get to serve, in love with the work of connecting the church to the community, in love with just how much joy and gratitude I get to practice. I have searched for, prayed for, sought with all my energy for, a space like this to use what I have spent years learning and am so passionate about.

Joy in this season, really this year, is a tricky thing. Should I celebrate when so many people are suffering? Can I take to the streets dancing with happiness and tambourines (metaphorically, of course) while still holding space for the grieving? I am torn. The world feels like it is in shambles and good things are happening, so I feel both overjoyed and guilty.

I am also, along with the rest of the world, figuring out how to live in this dystopian reality we find ourselves. The truth is, the world as we once knew it has ended, at least for now, and we are just now looking at some sort of relief from a vaccine. There is hope on the horizon, and there is so much destruction and death every where.

But then, I get on a zoom-link and see faces of youth I have only known for a few weeks, and my heart explodes with joy and love. I lead a Bible study and listen to people's questions and watch them develop and deepen their faith. For the first time in a long, long time, I feel at home. I feel as if my passion has found a place to flourish, and I am terrified.

Listen, I know that this is going to sound a little crazy. I finally reach what I have always wanted, and my response is terror? Well, terror may be a little dramatic, but fear is definitely there. Imposter syndrome they call it, I think. There are days that I walk into my very disheveled office and feel like I have been doing this my whole life, and then there are days I walk in and feel this sense of complete bewilderment as to how to move forward.

My heart rejoices. My mind frets.

"I wish that I had learned that in grad school", I think at least three times a week, and I am learning and growing in ways I couldn't have imagined. What I have learned most is the power of holding space for two things that seem to be unable to co-exist but somehow do. I am learning how to do what I love in this new context *and* sometimes it scares me when I am not sure how to move forward. I don't know all the appropriate terms for items in the church *and* there has never been a time when I have had more hope. We don't get to be in each other's physical presence right now *and* I feel a sense of community I didn't know was possible before a pandemic (I also have the best support system and volunteers imaginable, so feel free to be jealous).

I know this year has been one of waiting for everyone, but I was really used to waiting. I waited and studied and worked for five years for the chance to do this work. There were plenty of times I never thought it would happen *and* now that it has, it feels surreal.

I'm not going to lie, a whole lot of 2020 has sucked. It has been overwhelming, depressing, scary, grief-filled, *and* it is ending with hope; hope for a vaccine, hope for the new year, and hope that even this pandemic can have a redemptive ending somehow.

Today is the first day of Advent, for all my Christian readers out there, and hope just so happens to be the very thing we celebrate. Hope is a really hard thing to celebrate, because it is literally celebrating something that hasn't materialized fully yet, *and* without hope life ceases to have meaning (at least for me). So this Advent, I am fearful *and* hopeful. I am thankful *and* waiting. I sit in the unknown *and* know that peace, joy, and love are on their way.

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