As I have said in the past, I was a youth pastor. I loved working with, crying with, laughing with, and just simply being with the teens. When it was time to lay down the position and start in a new directions, it was hard.....very hard. To this day (almost 4 years later) I still think back and miss them!
That said, a man came up to me after we walked away and asked how I was doing. I told him I missed those kids. When you are with the teens for a number of years, watching them enter middle school and work all the way through leaving for college, they become like your children. This man, a man I respect, looked at me and said my problem was I let myself love them. I looked at him dumb founded. I was wrong to love them?!? He went on to say that you should never let your self fall in love with the people you work with, that way it's easier to correct them, to lead them and to leave them.
Those words have not left me all these years. I have thought about them a number of times. I have also come to this conclusion: I didn't love them enough. (Wow, emotional moment! Need a tissue!) When two sisters had a heart breaking happening, I was ready to redo my spare room for them, if ever need be. When ever I got a phone call, I was in my car and on my way over. We watched baseball games, birthday parties, graduations. When a father/mother walked out, we were there for as long as we were needed....night after night after night. If someone couldn't afford retreat, we payed for them... even when we didn't have money for groceries.
Some might say we were crazy and did more than necessary. Perhaps, but at the same time I would have done more if I could. For some, we were their only leading to God. Sometimes it felt like we gave them their only hope for tomorrow. When we walked away, we had to hope we gave them our best and that they got to know Jesus for the awesomeness that He is. I knew we accomplished this, at least to the best of our abilities, when a year later we got a phone call asking for prayer. Or when you get the email of a precious one saying they were thinking of me. Or the invite to a wedding.
You can be just another person in the lives of those around you, or you can show them a love that is different. Perhaps the only love they have known to date. In the words of Jesus, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
You can not love enough, that is what I have learned.