There have been two times this past month that the word “always” has brought me to tears (which isn’t all that difficult, ask my teens). But seriously, one word doesn’t usually evoke that kind of emotion. Maybe it wasn’t the word itself, but what it stood for.
Talking to one of my juniors after a Life Night recently I thanked her for being there. She responded with a laugh and said, “Betsy, I’m always here.” And it hit me – she is always here. I got to thinking, if it weren’t for the sign in sheet, how many teens would I not realize are there every week? I returned her laugh and said “You know, you’re right and I am grateful” and made sure to chat with her a while before she got picked up.
Last week I ended up at the back of church after helping with the collection and, at the sign of peace, one of our senior teens came running to the back. I asked if she was ok and she said “Yes! Just doing what I always do!” My eyes followed her as she hugged two elderly women from the parish who come to Life Teen Mass each week because they love to see the “faithful energy of the young people”, but sit in the last pew so they “aren’t in the way.” I thought “hmm . . . she always does this, and I didn’t notice.”
In ministry, we can get caught up in the details and making sure everything runs smoothly. In all of that, we can take for granted the parts of our ministry that already are running smoothly – the regularly attending teens, the teens who go out of their way to welcome others, our Core teams . . . you know, the people who are always there, and always being Christ to others.
They say “It’s hard to see the forest through the trees,” but in ministry sometimes we need to let go of the big picture, the forest, and really focus in on the trees, and make sure they know we are always grateful for their existence because without them, there wouldn’t be a forest anyway.
So, to the junior who is always there, thank you. To the senior who always extends Christ’s peace to others, thank you. To my incredible Core team who always brings their A-game, thank you.