A Church Administrator's Guide to Listening to God When You'd Rather Go to Europe
October 26, 2022
By Bailey Green
Midweek Musings is a weekly Covenant blog with a variety of authors and a variety of topics.
Hello! My name is Bailey Green, and I am Covenant’s Church Administrator. I’m also working part-time with Jo Wiersema in an effort to revitalize our youth programming to bring more youth back to Covenant in a post (almost, kind of, not really?) Covid-19 world.
You may be wondering, “Why on Earth is our Church Administrator writing a blog post? Doesn’t she have administrative work to be doing?” The answer to that is “YES”, but my job description includes the caveat “other duties as assigned," so blog writing became a part of my administrative duties this week. Here we go!
If I were asked to describe my personality in a few words, I think I would say that I have a dry sense of humor, I’m perceptive, and I’m reluctant to accept change. Despite my unwillingness to accept change, I’m somehow one of the most impulsive people you will ever meet.
Do I want to grab coffee at midnight on a Wednesday? I’m there. How do I feel about getting a paperclip tattooed on my ankle so a friend can practice his art? Sure, he can make it as big as he wants (true story, by the way). How about hopping on a plane to Estonia tomorrow for a month-long getaway? Actually, I’m already on the plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean. See you in December!
But, as you can imagine, these two diametrically opposed forces of personality have certainly led to some sleepless nights over the last two and a half years. The Covid-19 Pandemic forced an incredible amount of unwanted, and at times devastating, change in my life that could not be offset by planning a trip halfway across the world. All of this change drastically altered the entire course of my life.
If you would have asked me in March of 2020 where I would be right now, I certainly would not have said I would be working as a Church Administrator in Madison, Wisconsin.
I would have said that I graduated with my PhD from UW-Milwaukee with a job offer to teach history courses at a top-tier university, likely on the east coast or somewhere in Scandinavia.
I would have said that I did not have a strong relationship with my family, which was offset by having a large group of friends, or my “chosen family."
I imagine I would have also said I would be married to one of my exes, I would own a house, and I would have at least three cats, one dog, and a horse.
I likely would have published a book and met Taylor Swift before the age of thirty.
Of course, I would have said I would be living my best life.
Obviously, things changed.
While I loved teaching college courses before the pandemic, the introduction of 100% online courses changed the very foundations of academia. Suddenly, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.
From there, other unwanted changes snowballed out of control. Only a year into the pandemic, my large group of friends shrunk exponentially, and my relationship fell apart. My grades started to slip. I started drinking more, neglecting both my physical and mental health. My dad passed away unexpectedly two years into the pandemic. Milwaukee felt like an unwelcoming, lonely ghost land. I missed my dad. I was a failure.
And I was trapped.
(Cue the melodramatic plot twist!)
While I would normally just pick up and leave for Europe for a few months to distance myself from reality, the worldwide shutdown made it impossible for me to indulge in my spontaneously charged coping mechanisms.
Instead, I had to stay. I had to work through my issues. And, perhaps most challenging for me, I had to intentionally listen to what God was guiding me to do instead of manifesting my own destiny.
As a 26-year-old woman with larger-than-life dreams, letting go of control and learning to hone into where God was directing me was at the bottom of my to-do list.
Thus began the nearly impossible task of deliberately structuring my time to ensure I had a conversation with God once a day.
Were these conversations always positive? No, absolutely not! During the first year of restructuring my daily habits, I would argue that 95% of my conversations were motivated by feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness, and regret.
But over time, these conversations changed for the better. I supplemented these conversations by listening to podcasts on topics I forgot I even cared about (true crime!), reconnecting with long-lost spiritually minded friends, and journaling about one positive thing that happened to me every day.
To be clear, I’m not saying that honing your relationship with God is synonymous with giving up all your dreams to see what God has in store. I believe the opposite is true.
After putting the work into bettering my relationship with God, I became a happier, less pessimistic person. Gradually, my new-found positive outlook on the future began to coincide with new career opportunities, improved relationships, and a better understanding of myself and my goals.
My dreams are no longer daunting. They’re exciting.
I now believe three important things that I didn’t before the pandemic:
1. My dreams can and will change. That is normal, and that is healthy.
2. I am not a failure just because certain dreams did not pan out the way I thought they would.
3. I can be my impulsive, spontaneous self and still have peace knowing the fact that God will guide me through times of change, even if it seems unbearable in the moment.
In this post Covid-19 world, I’m living in Madison, Wisconsin. I have a full-time job working as the Church Administrator at Covenant. I am in a healthy relationship, and I am closer to my brother and my mom than I was before the pandemic. I have exactly one cat. One day, I will own a house, and I will have two more cats, one dog, and a horse. I may even still publish a book and meet Taylor Swift before I turn thirty.
Maybe I'm not where I thought I would be, but I am happy.
Bailey's cat, Boots.
Maybe some of what I've learned the hard way over the last few years speaks to you. I certainly hope it does.
But if you aren't there yet, keep talking to God. He (or She or They or It) is listening.
P.S. On an impulse after a long and exhausting week at work, I just bought tickets to go to a Carly Rae Jepsen concert next week at the Sylvee. I am living my best life, and I’m sure God approves. I’ll ask Him later.