Growing up

One of the joys of serving at a church for as long as I have (10 1/2 years) is that you get to see kids grow up. I have a confirmation student, that as a preschooler, used to hide behind her mom’s leg because she was scared of me. Now she is a spiritually mature confirmation student that babysits my children. I have a crop of 5th graders that will be starting confirmation in the fall as 6th graders. This group contains some of the kids I baptized when I first arrived, including my first baptism.

But last night things hit me a little harder when I attended our local high school’s Winter Fest coronation. A young lady voted to serve as the 10th grade representative in the royal court is a former confirmation and release time student of mine. She looked so grown up last night in her formal dress and her hair all done up. And I found myself wondering how this was possible since it seems like just last year she was one of my 3rd grade release time students.

Wow, where has the time gone?

And then I started to think again about those 5th graders starting confirmation in the fall…

Didn’t I just baptize them?

Don’t get me wrong, I can hardly wait until that 5th class starts this next phase in their faith journey. And I am thrilled to see this 10th grade student of mine grow up, but I can’t help but have conflicting feelings about the passage of time. The good ole days always yields to new, uncharted days; neither good or bad ~ yet.

Part of me wants to turn back time (if I actually could) and prevent these kids from growing up and cling to the good ole days. But to do that would mean losing who these kids have become and who I have become today because of them. Watching these kids grow up has had a big impact on my life. I have learned a lot about my own faith through their questions and searching; questions that only a child-like faith can ask. I have seen these kids grow from standing up in the pew during the offering (one of my 5th graders did this when she was 3 or 4) and shouting, Pastor Eric, I got your money! to wanting to pray for an individual during release time. These kids have grown up and in so many ways. So maybe this is not a bad thing. Maybe I just need to reign in these conflicting emotions and “let them”grow up.

The life of a pastor is filled with so many joys and sorrows; ups and downs; major life moments; and the list goes on. It’s all part of the calling. It’s all part of serving in a congregation for “long time”. It’s all part of the passage of time. The good ole days can’t stay the good ole days forever. They need to yield to a new set of days so they too have a chance to become the good ole days for someone else, maybe even me.

So I praise God that He has allowed me to experience these conflicting emotions. May God grant me what I need to savor the good ole days and welcome the new ones that are coming. May God bless the days that are coming that they may become new good ole days. And I thank God that He has given me these days to enjoy with these kids and I look forward to many more.

And by the grace of God may I continue to grow up as well.