Thursday, 23 February 2012 01:23

I Just Wanted Out Featured

Written by Nesha Smelley

“So, what are your plans for the fall?  What trips do you have planned?”  Judy asked.

youthtension“I don’t know”.  This response seemed to be the best answer I could muster.  I didn’t have plans! I didn’t have any idea what the student ministry (for which I was responsible) would be doing a year from that day (or even in six months).  And to be honest…..I am not sure I cared.  Oh, I knew I should care.  But I didn’t!  I just wanted out!  I wanted no more responsibility.  No more having to put on a face.  No more having to put on another program.  I was stuck.  I had to put on a face and put on a program every Sunday and Wednesday and days in between as I visited the schools and teens.

“I don’t know”, I told her through tears, “I just want to go to Seminary”.  I think I’ll work on my Seminary degree full-time and just help someone else who will come in and do the ministry full-time.   I thought I wanted to go to seminary.  In reality seminary was a smokescreen (and I didn’t even know it).  I just wanted out!

Sharing such a gloomy view of ministry, with the pastor’s wife, doesn’t sound wise, but we were great friends and I think it felt nice admitting I didn’t have the answers anymore.  I am a very driven person who always has an opinion.  I didn’t have an opinion anymore.  It didn’t matter.  I didn’t care.  My attitude filtered down to even tiny decisions like, where do I eat or what do I do on Friday night.  “I don’t know” and  “It doesn’t matter” seemed to be common phrases in my vocabulary.

The pastor’s wife asked me to see a counselor before I made any decisions regarding my future.  I followed her advice.  As the counselor began to ask questions, I realized I was burned out.   The more he uncovered, the more I realized that my burn out began with some interpersonal issues I had not resolved. I thought I could sweep these issues under the rug. These issues had hurt me deeply.  They teamed up with other circumstances to send me into a downward spiral.  Having never experienced burnout I didn’t have any idea what was going on.  I realized I loved God but hated the church.  I had even become paranoid (when at church). I wondered what people were saying about me.  This was definitely not me.

My pastor urged me to do whatever was necessary in order to find healing.  I still don’t remember that year of ministry.  I don’t remember who led the retreats we took.  I remember, about a year and a half later, thinking, “I’m back”.  “This is me.  I’m back”.  I was ready to run again, minister again, forgive again and live again.

I’m so glad I didn’t leave when I wanted out.  My best years of youth ministry were right around the corner. I would have missed those special moments if I had followed my initial inclinations.

Nesha Smelley, lives in Northport, AL. She was a youth minister for 15-20 years and now works with an overseas mission ministry reaching out to youth in other countries.