I’ve heard it a hundred times, both before I left Denver and in encouraging phone calls and letters since.
On some level I know that to be true. Heck, I even distinctly remember telling a friend, “I wish my job was just to drink coffee, have adventures, and talk about Jesus all day.” Tah-dah! Welcome to the Tanalian Leadership Center.
I laid on the frozen lake with my sweet Emilyn late one night and told her about that exact conversation from last summer. She just rolled her eyes at me and laughed. I think she laughed because A) she knows me well enough now to know that I was being serious and B) she also knows that my job is not exactly all “joyful adventures and hot beverages with Jesus”, as I had naively dreamed it would be.
Yes, there are those sweet moments of drinking hot cocoa on the icy lake while talking about the goodness of God. But it seems like for every one of those moments, there have been five moments of battle. Nights of loud, crying teenagers, outlandish behavior, and spiritual battles.
After all, living in a house with teenage girls has been… well, a lot like what you would think living in a house of teenage girls would be like. I’ve fought to speak truth to my girls and teach them to speak truth over one another through breakups and breakdowns, long nights of crying, and more rebellion than you could shake a stick at this month.
I’ve learned more about addictions and alcoholism in the last 60 days than I could’ve ever learned in the addictions counseling program I had once considered pursuing.
I’m going to level with you—the “honeymoon” is over and November was a HARD month. Soooo many times in the last month I called in reinforcements for prayer from many of you across the country (often at incredibly inconvenient times) and I am incredibly thankful for your faithfulness in interceding for my girls and I. There is a solid chance that I would’ve flipped our kitchen table “Jesus-in-the-temple” style a few times had y’all not been praying for grace to live in this house…
I’ve felt under qualified for this “dream job” many times this month, and that is simply because I am.
This job may be “perfect” for me, but at the end of the day, I’m not Jesus. I can’t heal my students of their addictions. I can’t calm the storms that rage in their hearts. But I can wake up, show up, pray, teach them diligently, and hold them on the bathroom floor as they cry at one in the morning. That is all I can do.
As we head into the season of advent, my prayer is simply that Jesus would come in powerful ways in the lives of “my kids”.
Lord, would you come and work in the lives of these students whom I’ve fallen in love with? Would you break the bonds of addiction? Would you gently mend their broken hearts that so desperately long to seek You, first? Would you show yourself to be Good and True in a holiday season that will likely be painful and dark for them as they return to their villages for our month “break”? Will you teach me how to live a life that prayerfully says, “Come, long expected Jesus,” as I’m personally tempted to look forward to the warm Colorado sunshine and the arms of you, my loves ones, more than the celebration of His birth and someday second coming?
Would you come, Lord Jesus? Come into our house and into our hearts. We need You. We all need you…