When I think about the most significant moments of my youth work career, though, I am always surprised by how little I am actually doing, and how that little is way more than enough.
For example, I’d been working with a young woman for a few years, in groups and doing one to one support with her. There was always a lot going on, with family, with education, with friends and romantic relationships… Things were difficult for her. In our one to ones we had explored lots of things, including how she was undecided on God, and wasn’t really keen on Christianity. I accepted that and we’d talk through different ways of coping with the things life threw at her.
One afternoon this young woman came to Urban Hope, wanting to use the church. She was visibly upset about something, so I open up the church, whilst asking what’s going on. In that moment she didn’t tell me, and it didn’t feel right to push it any more. I let her in and sat on a pew expecting her to have a conversation with me (and honestly, quite excited about that because isn’t that the golden moment that Christian youth workers dream of!?) Instead she kneels at the alter rail, in silence, and stays there for about 5 minutes – after which she stands up, says ‘Thanks Joy’ and leaves.
I knew better than to try and talk to her about it immediately, but later on asked her what was going on. She said she didn’t want to talk about it, and so we didn’t. In fact we never talked about it. I did try a few more times, but she wasn’t having it!
There’s no neat ending to this story. This young woman still wouldn’t say she was a Christian, I never got to find out what answer she received to that prayer she prayed, I still don’t even know why she was so sad that day, or if kneeling at the rail helped.
But I do know that this young woman was looking for God, and came to us to help her find Him. I know God met her at the alter rail, and I know that it was good that I was there to open the church doors that day.
In all the pressure to be and do more I find comfort in the fact that sometimes all I’m being asked to do is open a door, and that God will deal with the rest. This memory reminds me that being for God in a space is enough and that though I can always do better, I don’t always need to do more.