"When Presence Is Missing" by Preston Cooley

17 Aug 2020 3:10 PM | Anonymous member

Ive felt alone. I have felt isolated. I questioned the degree to which I am able to do my job. I didnt think I was doing enough for my kids, and the things that I was doing I wondered if any of my kids even cared about it. And I felt all those things way before any kind of lockdown! In other words, Ive been doing youth ministry during this quarantine. That part of the job hasnt changed much for me, the doubting and the loneliness and the frustration and the questioning. Its by no means all I feel, but I believe it comes with the territory when you re working with 6-12th graders.

I think the hardest part for me to cope with in this lockdown was understanding that I needed my kids- maybe even more than they needed me. My wife and I gave birth to a beautiful daughter two weeks ago, and I think it finally hit me when we were in the delivery room with nobody able to come and visit just how desperately I needed my community.

Yes, my community is my church, the congregation, and my coworkers. But my family, my inner circle within my community, is my youth group. I am an emotional guy and I lead with my emotions. I love my youth like my own kids. I started working at Trinity when I was a sophomore in college, so in many ways Ive grown up alongside these kids. I wanted so badly for them to be able to come and meet my daughter, to hold her and celebrate with us. I wanted to be with them in person.

I think this is the hardest part that I didn t anticipate about the lockdown. I thought my kids would be missing me, missing what we do at church on Sundays and Wednesday s, missing their youth room. But really what weve all been missing is presence. It cant be overstated what being together does for our mental health. I ll take a million days of self-doubt and frustration and wondering if my kids care about what we do together if it means we can actually BE together. Ill never take that for granted again.

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