I was sitting here thinking how long it’s been since I started blogging about my experience in disability ministry. It’s almost been two years! Every time I sit down to write another blog post I feel like it’s the first one. Every Sunday that rolls by is another day I’m in unfamiliar waters. I would have thought it would feel a little more familiar now that I’m almost two years in, but God is still teaching me so much! Does anyone else feel the same?
Over the last couple months, I have been so proud of my little friend at church. He’s growing up. His behaviors haven’t disappeared, but I have watched them mature. I love reporting his behavior to his mom and dad. It brings a smile to their face and I see a sparkle of pride in their eyes.
There have been a few times I haven’t been able to be a buddy to my little friend because of travel. I then have to pair him with another volunteer. More often then not, my little friend struggles when he’s not working with someone familiar. He tests boundaries and takes advantage of the inexperience the other volunteer has with his behavior. He’s a smart kid!
When I come back to these reports I have to fight the feeling of discouragement. I feel like we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. I was talking to our Children’s Ministry Director about it and she believes that his behavior when I’m away is due to the inconsistency he experiences with a different volunteer. That made me realize how effective volunteer consistency is in this ministry.
My little friend has spent the last two years learning my behavior with him and he’s adjusted his own accordingly. It’s taken some time and work, but now we understand each other well enough to deal with the behavior in a rational manner. But when I put a new person into the equation then it’s basically going back to the drawing board. My little friend tests his boundaries and the volunteer’s reactions to his behaviors.
This has taught me two new things:
- I must be clearer with my little friend about my expectations for his behavior whether I’m there with him or not.
- I need to start incorporating at least one more volunteer into his rotation on a regular basis so he can learn how to deal with change a little better… that’s going to be HARD!
Maybe my next blog post should be about letting go… 😊
Rachel Roleder serves as the Manager of the Cause 4 Life, Global Missions and Internships Department at Joni and Friends. Rachel enjoys learning more of God’s design for His church as she leads teams of interns on disability ministry outreaches all over the world.