My Vocational Change at age 42. A look back 8 months in: Written March 2023

My explanation of retiring from? leaving? the Young Life Staff after exactly 20 years of employment and service, was sent in an email to donors, staff peers, family and friends.
The email read:
I am writing to let you know I took another job this week and will be leaving the Young Life staff for my next season. 
I will continue to lead WyldLife in KC and support the mission in many ways. 
I feel so grateful for my 20 years (celebrating August 15th, 2022!) of Young Life as a vocation and lifestyle. I came to Young Life staff for teenagers in a small town. I am leaving staff for more direct engagement with teenagers in a bigger city. I intended to be a teacher when I went to college and will head that way now. Next year I’ll work in the Reconnect room at LEAD, Eli and Andi’s high school.
I will be forever grateful for the leadership formation I received and was able to offer inside the mission. I am a different person because of the Christ-centric methods and grace of God. 
In Young Life, I made some of my best friends, expanded my perspectives, enjoyed traveling to amazing places to work and worship, and benefited from the challenge and gift of raising funds from amazing, generous, and faithful team members, and loved sharing life and Jesus with kids. I was never ever alone, loved my teams, always had a champion (or six), was believed in, and was blessed, beyond what I could have imagined. 
I’m glad I know you. 
I so hope we continue to partner in kingdom work as God leads me through this change. Thank you for your presence in my life and your gift of friendship, investment, care, and cheer for all or part of these last 20 years.
I left because….
The changes in my department (Learning and Leadership) shifted people and pace enough that I had space to explore:
– What is at the core of what I want to do with the skills, experience, and passions I possess?
– What are possible vocations where that core is exercised?
– Do I stay in YL?
My answers:
I want to directly serve my kids and everybody elses. I like teenagers- I’ve been trying to reach them from outside the school for 20 years, what if I went inside the school?
I want to work on a team.
I love to lead so others learn, grow, and develop.
I prefer to lead a room of many instead of work one: one.
Despite my appreciation for travel, I knew I was missing moments at home too often and putting a strain on my partner at home as well as constantly juggling guilt and regret with fulfilling and enjoyable pursuits. I realized I was 42 and could work another 20 years easily- it wasn’t too late to make a big change. My work with YL was completely attuned to my calling, and gifts, and was about to grow into something with even more money and responsibility. It seemed like it was what I had always wanted and been waiting for. Yet, as I processed and started to apply (July 2022 at Clearwater Cove for WL camp), I felt released. I said out loud, “I don’t want to do this” and felt the Lord say, “You don’t have to.”
So I applied for a Teacher’s Assistant position in Park Hill where I’d spent a significant amount of time subbing at middle schools in the 21-22 school year. The director of HR who interviewed me gave me great guidance for the job I sit in today: the In-School Suspension supervisor at LEAD Innovation Studio.
I’m starting over and starting small. After garnering influence, responsibility, and leadership under the guidance of mentors, peers, and the best boss, I was now working in anonymity with no agency for effecting change.
Eight months into the new job, I have:
– Less ignorance and more appreciation for all teachers
– My greatest joy in having in-house co-workers.
– I was given the opportunity to do what I love in helping with a freshman girls’ wellness group-quickly moving from one-time presenter to full-fledged director.
– I moved from an office/classroom I loved on floor 2, to a new one which I now, also love. It’s a 3rd-floor corner office with walls made of windows overlooking a forest!
– I enjoy being in the same building as my teenagers. Andi pops in multiple times a day and came down from bedtime last night to give me one more hug and say, “I love that you work at my school Mom. I’m so happy I get to see you every day. Please don’t leave.”
– I am grateful for the smaller amounts of responsibility and the lack of major forward planning I have to do in this role.
– I’m home for major moments, ordinary tasks, and emotional conversations that happen without warning. All of these are impossible across distances and make our family connected, comfortable, and moving forward. I was at Andi’s fall orchestra show and not the LLD meeting at Castaway and that felt right.
– I get to work with teenagers daily and directly which is a struggle (35%) and a joy (65%). .
– I’ve settled on a graduate program to become a certified secondary English teacher and start classes April 1st.
–  I almost quit this job in February.
I was seizing and reeling because:
The galvanized gap of being unknown, underutilized, unstimulated, and around a bunch of grumbling has worn on me. It’s not insurmountable and the “I need something to change in this role for me to stay” conversation with the admin was heard and well-received.
So I’m staying. I’m in a role I know isn’t my forever and intend to make the most of it for my own development but most importantly, for the best service and care I can offer to students.
In looking back, I have no regrets, a few cringe moments, and many blessings from the 20 years I spent on Young Life staff. They are named in the transition letter above. At this eight-month look back, however, I can for sure say I most miss:
– The relationships, on all levels of connectivity and camaraderie. I had so many people ahead of me I was constantly respecting and gleaning from. I had so many beside me spurring me on. I had many I was leading and had led that I still valued and greeted. I had 100s of casual connections across the mission that I would appreciate hearing from in an email or running into at a camp. All casual but all positive and accessible if desired.
– The travel- to great places to meet with wonderful people and do important work.
– The familiarity of language, culture, ritual, and rhtymns inside a company that sought to serve in the name of Jesus.
– The hope we held for teenagers and the joy in befriending and mentoring them that was the bedrock.
So now I sit in a low chair and eat humble pie and wrestle with my ego and convictions. I cannot believe I’m here doing this one day and then I feel so lucky and happy to be here the next.  I feel stuck and free at the same time. I feel necessary and appreciated and then dismissed and forgotten daily. I respect the teachers in this building for how long they have been serving other people’s kids and I really want to be like them. I get to sit on a small team for school-wide behavior engagement thinking and share good ideas with proven insight and experience. But I’m not paid or acknowledged for these types of work/sharing/thinking. I wish I didn’t get bothered by this or my hourly paycheck but in truth, it does feel like what an ego bruise must be.
In prayer and petition, I’m hearing, PATIENCE. What is next is not fully known and there isn’t a hurry to get them or know it’s finished point. . We just read about Moses and the water from the rock and God’s capable provision from a never before seen, completely unexpected

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