Today’s guest post is written by Gloria Lee…
My childhood was far from perfect. My mother passed away of an aneurysm when I was eight years old, which was just the beginning of the biggest transition of my life. Within 12 months, I found myself with my single dad, soon to be followed by a new step-mom, immigrated to the States, dropped off in the middle of the United States (literally, I was taken to Olathe, Kansas, to live with my maternal grandparents), taken to a school filled with people who didn’t understand a single word I said, and had to say good-bye to my dad who went to go live in Los Angeles. That’s a lot of changes for an eight-year-old in 12 months! I was too young to process any of this as a young child.
The next few years weren’t any easier. I lived with my relatives in Kansas for four years, moved to Los Angeles to live with my dad, step-mom, and half-brother at the age of 13, started new school at the height of puberty, went through many identity crises, and struggled through my relationship with my step-mom throughout high school. Life wasn’t easy: I had many tearful nights as a teenager. My big saving grace was that God had surrounded me with amazing family members who got me through the very tough, emotionally-charged times. However, I often questioned God about why my life was the way it was.
Fast forward to Father’s Day 1994. I was in college, and a few of us had volunteered to lead kids in a Sunday afternoon program at church. We had decided to do a special project on this Sunday, probably the most popular craft that is done on this day every year: A TIE-card for Father’s Day! We probably thought we were brilliant to come up with the craft. As we passed out the cut out tie-cards, a third grade boy with the cutest chipmunk face you’ve ever seen looked up at me and said, “Teacher Gloria, do you have a dad?” I felt blood rushing to my face. How could we have been so insensitive to this kid? We all knew that he had lost his dad not too long ago. Our conversation continued:
Me: You know what? I do have a dad… but you have something I don’t have.
Me: You have a mom…. I don’t have a mom. I have a dad, but you don’t have a dad. Why don’t we go to that bench and talk? You don’t have to do this craft…
This conversation with an adorable third grader forever changed the way I interact with kids. That evening, I realized how God used my past experiences to talk to him, and it was even healing for me. The following year, I began an internship in children’s ministry and have been in vocational children’s ministry since. Countless times, I have been able to talk to kids about death, absent parents, stepparents, pain, and the not-so-perfect life! I have become a lot more sensitive to kids who are hurting, and I also learned to share the hurts in my life with the kids I minister to so they can know that they have someone who understands hardship. I’m sensitive to the hurts and baggage kids carry, and I understand that some of these hurts never go away.
I believe that God used my childhood experiences to prepare me for my ministry. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go into ministry to children, but as I look back, I believe God had been preparing me all along. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else but to minister to kids and share the love of Jesus with them.
How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?
Gloria S. Lee is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Talbot School of Theology and has been committed to Children’s Ministry for 18+ years. She’s led workshops at conventions including CPC, NWMC, CMTA, and BASS. She has contributed to INCM’s Insight newsletters, Trust Us, They’ll Ask, and If I Can Do All Things Through Christ, Why Can’t I Find My Car Keys?, VBS curriculum, and global sports ministry curriculum. Her all-time favorite food is crab, and believes in trying everything at least once (as long as it’s not illegal nor immoral). She currently leads children and family ministry in Los Angeles, Ca. Connect with Gloria via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and her blog.
(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)