The first academic year of my three-year-degree is over, and it is [almost] a year since I became a Student Youth Worker. What a year it's been. There have been struggles and triumphs, leaving people and meeting people, coming and going, celebrations and laments.
Usually at this time of year, I'm preparing to move onto something new, and I'm saying my goodbyes. In 2016, I left high school, in 2017 I left a youth work placement, and in 2018 I left a second youth placement, and Youth For Christ's gap year program, The Year Out. It feels strange that I'm not saying 'goodbye' to anyone or anything this year. It's a new feeling; I like it.
The past year has been a season of process. I've learnt lessons from university, work placement, those around me and through scripture and spending time with God. However, I feel like there's so much more to learn. I feel that I'm learning, rather than have fully learnt. Here are a couple of those things:
1. Progress not perfection.
It's okay for something to be fine, rather than perfect. This year, I've had really good marks on my assignments; the lowest being 62% and the highest being 73%. Last term, I wasn't confident on my essay titles and, without really noticing or identifying what I was doing, I pressured myself, thinking the essays had to be perfect. I read through and read through what I had written, and it just made me think "this isn't good enough" even more, until I eventually realised that it's about progress, not perfection. Everything I do, create, make, lead, live, doesn't have to be perfect.
2. Allow people to care.
Over the last year, and especially over the last month, I've felt so wrapped up in the arms of people's genuine care. People have supported me, opened the doors of their home to me, encouraged me, listened to me. Allowing people to care for you doesn't mean that you can't do it on your own, but sometimes it's easier, lighter, more joyful, if you pass things over to someone else.
I said to someone earlier this year, "I don't want to burden you" and they replied that they want to carry my burdens. I thought that was the most powerful and Jesus-like thing to say.
'What do you mean, you've learnt to breathe this year, Rebecca? How have you gone nineteen years without breathing?'
When life is chaotic, sometimes I feel like I'm doing the day-to-day without breathing; without coming up for air. I do this job, tick it off the list, go there and have a meeting, make this, write that, plan a session, speak to her, cook this, clean that, walk there, meet them. Sleep. Repeat. This year I've learnt the power of coming up for air, of taking just a minute or two out to breathe. As you breathe steadily in and out, list five things you see around you, four things you physically can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Breathe.
4. I am valuable for who I am, not what I do.
I can create the best session plan, write the best essay, lead the best all-age talk, wash up all the cups and plates at Toddler Group, be really 'on it' at Youth Cafe. But that's not where my value lies. My value lies in who I am, not what I do.
5. There's always tomorrow, and there's always more grace.
Very few things are so urgent that they can't wait until tomorrow. If you can't get everything done today, move it to tomorrow, where there'll still be grace. If everything is going wrong, wait for tomorrow, where there will be more grace.