I finally had a post-college plan. I’ll do a year of service, go to grad school to get my Masters in Social Work (whatever that means), and become a counselor. I was moving to a new city and doing something different and exciting. I couldn’t wait to get experience with case management before going back to school. I expected none of these plans to change in my 10 months as an Amate House volunteer, but things never really turn out exactly how I expect them to. God had something a little different in mind.
When reflecting on the Pentecost story, I couldn't help but see myself in Mary Magdalene as she opens up the tomb of Jesus to find something she does not expect. She does not find Jesus where she expected Him to be. She does not even recognize him when she does find Jesus. As my time as an Amate House volunteer comes to a close, I feel as though things have not gone as I expected them to go 9 months ago. I feel like Mary Magdalene clinging to her expectations of Jesus, just about ready to let go and walk in a different direction for something new.
Since August, I have been working at Lakeview Pantry as the West Pantry Assistant Coordinator (I know, what an exciting title…). Most of my position consists of running the daily operations of the pantry’s West site alongside my supervisor, Carrie. The other part of my position consists of working with the manager of client services by meeting with clients one-on-one during walk-in case management hours at the pantry’s East site. The main reason I picked my position was because of the case management experience I would gain. I expected this to be the best part of the job. Who would be better at listening to people’s problems than me?? I was wrong. Although I am not terrible at case management, it is certainly not something I want to be doing for the rest of my life.
This year has really made me question whether direct service is for me. Just recently, I had an absolutely terrible day at work. A client became very upset and told me that I should not be allowed to work at Lakeview Pantry. I was absolutely devastated and although I knew I should take what she said with a grain of salt, her words made me no longer want anything to do with direct service. A week later, I was covering for my supervisor once again during distribution on a Saturday. Toward the end of my day, a client came up to me and said the most gracious thing. “You know, you are doing a great job. It’s sometimes so hard to come to a place like this. It can feel so…undignified. But I do not feel like that here.” She had no idea what had happened a week earlier, but I felt like she knew I needed to hear this. She assured me that I was where I was supposed to be; doing what I was supposed to be doing. The best part of my job are the days when I am at the West site running the pantry. I know it sounds extremely nerdy, but this year I discovered how much I enjoy managing and supervising people. It brings me so much joy when the volunteers have had a great time and the clients appreciate the organized operations of the pantry. I love making people feel welcome and appreciated.
My time as an Amate House volunteer has made me even more confused than ever about my future. In the beginning of winter, I ruled out Grad school as an option because I don’t know what I want to go for, and I don’t want to waste money on something my heart is not completely set on. When I ruled out Grad school, I was still unsure about what jobs I even wanted to apply for. I had expected to love the case management part of my job, and that is the opposite of what happened. About a month ago, I started applying to jobs that I thought looked interesting and that fit with my experience running part of the operations of a not for profit food pantry. I’m still confused about what city I want to be in and what I will be doing after my time with Amate House, but I would rather be confused now, than regretful in Grad school. I am so grateful that I picked my site placement even if it was originally for the wrong reason. I’m taking one step forward and trusting that God is walking with me. I am no longer a confused Mary Magdalene, but the Mary Magdalene that finally recognizes Jesus outside of the tomb in the garden. I’m not sure where I am going, but I’ll see when I get there.