When I was finishing high school, I was interviewed and offered a job at a national bank, thus started a thirty-four-year career in banking, spanning three provinces. I became an expert in foreign exchange, dealing with banks internationally and thought that was what I would do for the rest of my career. Moving to Alberta, there was little foreign exchange, but there was oil. I was put in charge of dealing with the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission and the settling of their accounts with the various oil companies. Moving to a small town in Ontario, neither was going to work for me and I became a Personal Banker. As changes took place, I found myself out of banking and wondered what I would do next as I had not planned to retire at that point.
In the Bible, there is a piece of Scripture that speaks to me. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord says “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. I wondered where those plans would take me next.
A year later, I saw a notice for a part time position to be a youth leader at a local Church. Eight hours a month, this was not going to pay the bills BUT it felt right, and I could still look for other work at the same time. The other work did come, in the oddest ways. The Church program was closed each summer and I took a position as the part time office manager for the local Speedway (car racing). My days of following the race-track circuit were long gone by this time and I could concentrate on the purse money & ticket sales. When the racetrack was sold, I was offered a position as kitchen manager at a Christian Camp for two summers. I was to mentor the young adults in the kitchen, plan meals and be the main cook. I had no training in this field other than I love to cook and would teach cooking to the youth group during the year. In reality, I had no training to run the youth group in the first place, other than I had been a single mom, on a budget and happened to have an interest in crafts, cooking, music and the arts.
I had no formal training in religious studies, other than my own faith journey and here I was, mentoring and teaching young people about faith and about God. I felt the next plan should be that I go back to school. I completed a three-year certificate program in Theology & Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary through correspondence and a trip to New Jersey every year for an intense week of classes and workshops. Now I felt qualified to be the teacher of these young minds. The certificate enabled me to take a position covering a maternity leave for one year at a long-term care facility as their spiritual health specialist, which included support for all faiths and dealing with end of life for the residences as well as the families. A total change of pace from youth ministry but an impactful experience. Once the contract was over, I received an offer from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall to be the Program Director for Youth & Young Adult Ministries.
If you had asked that seventeen year old girl, where her path would lead her, the answer would not have been this road. At seventeen, I thought I knew my future. It would include working at the bank until I retired, getting married, having children and NOT leaving Montreal. Instead, I moved, my marriage was broken, I had only one child and my banking career was over before my daughter was an adult.
But remembering that piece of Scripture, I realize that every step on that road, led me to the place I am at today. Every task, every new ability was put there to reach this point.
So now, I look to the future (even in this pandemic) and I am thankful for where I stand today and the person I have become.