Vacation Bible School was this week. When the email came out a few months ago, I did something that it took years for me to do. I sent out a polite email and said, I would not be volunteering this year.
I said no.
Not only did I not volunteer, I haven't even been driving to church every morning. My teenager is working VBS as a youth leader and my ten year old is participating in Mission Day Camp and we are carpooling!! I have volunteered for the last 10-12 years. Two years ago, I went totally nuts and led (the children) through a week of Mission Day Camp and if that wasn't enough, I volunteered to be in charge of the craft for VBS. I put my time in. And it wasn't without inner turmoil.
From the very beginning, VBS overwhelmed me. Coming from a very small country church with a handful of kids, I distinctly remember walking into my large church's gym for the first time and feeling overpowered by the intensity of nearly four hundred kids. I didn't even have my own kids yet. This gym was boisterous, loud, and full of energetic children. And for several of the next years, I was responsible for groups of those loud, energetic children. And even though the week wore me down like no other, and I had no energy for my own children, I persisted in volunteering year after year because that is what I was supposed to do.
In hindsight, I worried what it would look like that I was a stay at home mom who did not volunteer for VBS. I let my concern over what I thought other people would think prevail over what I absolutely knew was true about myself. And then throw God in the mix and I was totally set up for years of inner angst! I was never meant to be a teacher of kids. I tried really hard to mold myself into that but it didn't work. Girl Scout leader didn't stick either.
Yet I learned. One year, I filled out a scathing review at the end of the week because I did not know how to ask for help. That year, I was leading an "active" group that needed a lot of intervention and my co-leader's daughter got sick and I was ALONE with my lot. I needed to ask for more help but I did not want to bother anybody. I was miserable and it seeped out in the questionnaire.
Over time, I learned to listen to my intuition, I learned to be assertive, I learned that I was capable of leading children, I was capable of being in charge of something important but it is not my passion. When you are passionate about something, it is near effortless and you gain energy! What feels like work in one area, just flows in another. (and that's God flowing through)
I am an introvert (albeit a social one). Being around people drains me, especially children : ) I have to cocoon for a long time after spending a week with four hundred children. Every summer, I would have an emotional meltdown towards the end of the summer and it was awful. I didn't know how to listen to my intuition, and act on it. I didn't ask for a quieter job.
But I know now.
But the mind is a funny thing. This past Monday morning, even though I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that I was hanging my VBS volunteer hat up for good, I did feel the need to tell two near strangers at church, that I was not working this year. And guess what? THEY DID NOT CARE.
I'm the only one that cared!
I'm the one that had to change my thoughts about it. The only person I had to truly disappoint was me. (well my oldest is giving me a small amount of flak, but she's a teenager and well, you know...) Thoughts are so powerful. Paying attention to what you tell yourself about any given situation is so powerful. Are the thoughts true? Is the story that is repeated all day long in your head, true? Those thoughts can mean misery or freedom. It is the most important thing to do, to challenge the thoughts that you tell yourself about yourself all day long. It takes time, but they can be rewired.
So today is the last day of VBS, and I am not even going for the closing service. I will show up at noon when it's completely over, and gather my children together. And I'm at peace with that. I get to stay at home and write today. Pure Bliss.
Postscript: Everyone should volunteer for a few years if able. I just volunteered for about five years too long.