Tonight was different. For the first time in six years, I stayed home on the night before a MOPS meeting. After six years of serving in leadership, four of those as coordinator for our group, I picked my kiddies up from AWANA, got in the van, drove home, and then tucked them into bed. Then, I packed the bookbags of my older two for the first day of our homeschool co-op classes in the morning. After that, I sat down and worked on a little project.
I wasn’t at MOPS setup, overseeing the setup of childcare rooms and helping count snack cups for the children. I wasn’t at MOPS setup watching an awesome group of ladies turn a youth building into a beautifully decorated, welcoming space for tired mommies. I wasn’t at MOPS setup taking care of last minute details to make sure the meeting goes off as planned the next morning. I wasn’t at MOPS setup stressing over having enough childcare workers in the morning. I wasn’t at MOPS setup feeling the electricity in the air as the leadership team puts the finishing touches on the first meeting of the year.
Instead I was at home. Just another mom anxiously awaiting the first MOPS meeting of the year. Just another mom wondering what the “MOPS fairies” had in store for all of us MOPS moms. I’ve seen behind the scenes. I know the planning that goes into the decorations, the theme, the icebreakers at the first meeting, the activities planned, the crafts. And I’m super excited to be totally surprised in the morning. I haven’t had that experience in a really, really long time.
The past few weeks, as MOPS got closer, I felt this strange dichotomy. The feeling of missing the excitement of putting all the pieces of a large MOPS group together and the feeling of relief, knowing the responsibility isn’t mine anymore. Surprisingly, this summer as was letting go of leadership in MOPS, I’ve experienced a rather significant time of personal growth. And that was totally unexpected on my part.
MOPS President Sherry Surratt once said that “every mom needs a friend, every leader needs a chance to grow, and every church needs a MOPS group because ultimately everyone needs Jesus.” I fully expected to grow during my time on leadership. And I did. Boy did I ever. I’ve covered some of that in older posts. But, I never expected to grow as a leader AFTER leadership.
Letting go is hard. I gave an hour long talk at the leadership planning retreat this past summer. I showed up, gave my little talk to the new team, and then left. Walking out that door was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I loved serving on leadership. I loved the brainstorming that happens at a planning retreat. I left a large part of my heart as I left that afternoon. I struggled on the drive home. I wasn’t long into my quest to lose weight and get healthy. Consequently, I immediately wanted to stop at my favorite fried chicken joint, eat some greasy, bad for you food and drink a Coke. But you know what? I grew… I flashed back to Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made to Crave. And I realized that filling that hole in my heart with food wasn’t the healthy thing to do. Food wasn’t going to fill that hole. So I prayed and had a good cry. I took a necessary step that transformed my journey to health as I learned to turn to God instead of empty calories. I grew.
I’m still friends with several of the ladies on the current leadership team, and I volunteered to serve as a discussion group leader this year. Because of all that, I’ve heard bits and pieces of planning ideas and the everyday challenges of putting everything together. And I’ve had to grow. The inner control freak has wanted to bust out and say, “I’d never do it that way.” I’ve struggled a lot with that. But in the words of Queen Elsa, I’ve had to “let it go.” This isn’t my responsibility anymore. I’ve had to check my ego at the door. I’ve had to pause, stop, and not ask what I could do to help. I’ve had to realize that new leaders don’t grow and and new teams don’t bond properly if old timers don’t let it go. Those realizations – yeah, I grew.
I may have mentioned before my struggles (ha!) – my anxiety, my perfectionism, my insecurities, my fear of failure. You know, nothing too bad. HA! Well, I’ve had my fair share of conversations with God the past few months asking him why I had to give up the one thing I absolutely felt confident doing – leading MOPS. I often feel so lost as a mom, so inadequate in so many ways at home (hello, beautiful mess!) and in homeschooling (this educating thing is hard work!). I’m fashion challenged and make-up dumb. I want to write, but I’m undisciplined. Insecurities abound. The one thing I was good at… the one thing I felt comfortable doing… He made it clear I should step away. While I knew my time was up so I could concentrate on homeschooling, I didn’t realize that part of His plan was my continued growth as a leader AFTER leadership. Throughout this summer, I grew.
I’m not coordinating MOPS anymore. I’m just a discussion group leader, and that actually has me more nervous than I expected… something new, something I’ve never done before. Another chance for me to grow.
And it’s time for me to grow in other areas as well. As a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, as a writer, as a person, as a child of the one true king.
And I’m not sure how MOPS International did it, but again, a theme this year made precisely for me – Be You, Bravely! It’s scary to grow. I’m having to relearn who I am in so many ways. And yet, I find comfort in the scripture they’ve assigned for this year.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
Thanks, MOPS – every leader does need a chance to grow. Even after leadership.