I started a new job with the YMCA three weeks ago, working for their summer program. When I first accepted the job, I thought “this will be an easy-going, simple thing to do with my summer. Working with kids! I’ve totally got this.” I was really quite proud.
However, I didn’t consider the reality of caring for, keeping track of, and entertaining a crowd of grade schoolers for hours. It is no small task, and the struggle of it has taught me a lot.
I spent the first two weeks of the job doing training and working some. Since school was still in session, we only provided after-school care for the kids. This consisted of free play, outside play, a daily lesson, and snack time. It was a whirlwind as I tried to learn 40+ new names, internalize all the rules and procedures, and command the attention of so many energetic little humans at once. You get it, it was a lot: just like any new job is.
And I didn’t handle it so well.
After my second day, I felt overwhelmed with how not easy it was. I was constantly having to ask questions, guessing names wrong, and feeling like I was failing. Honestly, I felt like more of a burden to my coworkers than a help. My friends reminded me that new jobs are always hard, but still I wanted to give up. I was quite anxious during those first weeks, obsessing over future days and worrying about every detail. Overall, it was just not pretty.
This past week, our summer program officially started. This means we care for the kids all day: from 6:30 am-6 pm. Wowza. We try to keep them busy, content, and behaved, which requires loads of creativity and patience. I’ve spent the time in various ways: coloring with the kids, running around all sweaty in the gym, providing endless icepacks for small injuries, serving lunch and snacks, and teaching games. I hate yelling at kids, but there’s honestly been a lot of that, too.
The days go by fast, and now I’m so glad I didn’t quit. It took a while for me to get to that point, but it’s true. I would have missed out on a lot of joy if I’d avoided the awkwardness and hardship of the first few weeks. Even though I have so much more to learn, and many hard days ahead, I’m glad I stuck with it.
Here are a few things God has taught me lately:
1. Don’t give up on a hard thing, especially in the beginning. For the past three summers, I have seriously considered quitting my summer job. I’m not lying. Beginnings and transitions are just plain hard. But, for all three jobs, I’m incredibly glad I kept with it!
2. Humility. Of course. I approached this job thinking it would be easy for me and that I’d be a blessing to my team. However, being the newbie has reminded me that I don’t know everything. Here’s a quote from my journal: “I usually just try at something, and it goes well for me. But this is going to be maybe harder than I realized.” It’s been a reminder that I always have room to learn and grow.
3. I can ask God for patience and love for the kids. At the heart of this job, I want to love and care for the kids. I want them to become more confident and smarter and see Jesus’ love through me. But obviously that beautiful mission isn’t constantly in my mind. Often, I’m angry and fed up with the kids being disrespectful, or I’m just wrapped up in my own frustration with the day. But praying for patience and love is a reminder that 1) there’s a greater purpose at stake, and 2) I am not alone in my struggle.
4. My skills are from God, and I can use them for his glory. I was reading in Exodus 35 recently, where God explained the layout of the temple and then gave a few people the extraordinary skills to complete the work. It reminded me that all the skills, knowledge, and energy I have are from Him, not myself. It points my thankfulness and mission towards the Lord. I receive everything from him, so that I can work towards his glory. What a beautiful thing to remember in the heat of a trying work day!
I’m looking forward to a summer full of more fun and tricky moments with the kids, relying on God’s strength, and learning more lessons through it all. I hope your summer has been going well, and that we can all look for the Lord’s purposes and love every day.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!