Leaving: To my high schoolers

"Leaving" is a series of blog posts having to do with my process of transitioning out of my first call and into a new call; leaving St. Timothy Lutheran (Naperville, IL) and moving to First Lutheran (Decorah, IA).

This is the letter that I wrote to the high school students at St. Timothy. They were a huge part of my ministry and are a spectacular group of young people. They very much deserve their own letter of farewell.

High schoolers, there’s something that you need to know right up front: you guys rock. I look at you and I feel proud. You are thoughtful, faithful, hilariously funny, compassionate, talented, trusting and trustworthy, energetic, and downright fun to be with.

There have been so many times that I have said to people, “The St. Timothy high schoolers never cease to amaze me.” And it’s true. Just when I think I know how awesome you are, you find new ways of surprising me. You are a blessing. You must know that. And even though I am excited about my new adventure in Iowa, it also breaks my heart to leave St. Timothy and to leave all of you.

Leaving is a tricky business. Some of you have asked questions about what I am and am not “allowed” to do once I leave. The good news: I don’t have to cut off all ties. If you say hi on Facebook or text me, I will totally say hi back. If I’m in Chicagoland visiting my family and I run into you in downtown Naperville, I don’t have to hide under a rock. And if you are doing college visits and decide to check out Luther College, call me up so that I can take you out for coffee!

But I do have to change the boundaries a little bit. I can’t be pastor to you in the same way that I am now. There might be times when I need to say, “I can’t help you with this, but I can help you find somebody who can.” And I won’t be able to worship at St. Timothy when I’m in town. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about your or that I don’t want to be a part of your lives. It just means that our relationship changes.

We’ve shared so much these last few years – trips, events, Sunday night activities, games, inside jokes, service projects. We’ve been through a lot together, and we’ve see God at work in so many ways.

In these last few weeks, I promise that we’ll find time and space to share these memories, not only as a way of saying goodbye, but as a way for you all to remember that you have made this high school group what it is. It is a strong, comfortable, safe place, full of close relationships, because you have made it that. And so I want you to promise me that you’ll stick together, and take care of each other, and make the commitment to each other and the group that you’ll continue to make the St. Timothy high school group an exciting and special place to be.

Also, know that you are really blessed to have an amazing high school leadership team, and they are all super-cool and kind and wonderful (but you already knew that!). You can go to them with ANYTHING, and they want nothing but the best for you. They are wise, fun, caring mentors in faith. So be good to them (and lean on them) because they are pretty darn great. ☺

Finally, remember that God is holding and guiding all of us. God has some new plans for my future, and God has lots of plans for your future, too! We are bound together in the one body of Christ, and so we step forward in faith, trusting the grace and love of God to see us through to all of the plans he has prepared for us.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Melissa

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