Rev. Melissa Cooper

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"What's Next?": Getting What You Asked For

 Photo by  freddie marriage  on  Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I was on a plane headed to Portland, Oregon, headed to an event where hundreds of young adults are looking at what their next steps are and what God might be calling them to. 

It was the first day of the rest of my life. For the last eight and a half years, I’ve been a camp director. After I graduated from seminary, got married and was commissioned as a United Methodist clergywoman (all of that happened in the span of about a month), my new husband and I moved straight to the coast of North Carolina, where we began a life together at a rustic camp. Before long, both my husband and I were deeply invested in careers in camp and retreat ministry. And the day before I took off to help young people discern their next steps in ministry, I completed my last day of work at a camp and retreat center in central Florida. 

We’ve never known what marriage looks like without camp. We’ve never done life together without camp. This is a new era. Since seminary, my call has been to camping ministry, creating experiences for individuals, families and groups that form faith and build community. 

In that time, the specifics of my day to day work changed nearly day to day. That’s the nature of camp and retreat ministry - no one day looks like another. So needless to say, I’m comfortable with change. I’m comfortable with things being in flux. I’m comfortable with not knowing.

And yet, in the last couple of months, my comfort zone has been challenged. 

When we announced our departure in early September, the first questions were, of course, “What’s next?”

For my husband, that answer was easy. He’s the one who took a new job, and his new job was the primary reason for our move. But this time, for the first time, I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know what’s next. And while there is plenty of excitement about the possibilities, I really do find myself more uncomfortable with this time of unknowing than I had anticipated. 

While my life has always consisted of a variety of projects - curriculum writing, speaking, etc. - for the first time, I don’t have one grounding “thing” that I do. And that’s the first question anyone you meet asks you - “What do you do?” The assumption is that they’re asking about the thing you do 9-5 Monday-Friday (not that camp & retreat ministry has ever been that) that provides money to pay for your daily life. And I don’t have that anymore.

And yet, this is exactly what I asked for. The dream for the last few years has been to work toward a life of freelance work, picking and choosing my projects, being free to partner with a variety of organizations and individuals to create amazing things. And that's exactly what is in front of me. 

I am so thankful for a husband who has a call on his life that perfectly complements mine, and it has every step of the way. I am thankful for a wonderful new home, and a wonderful family who helped make it possible for us to have this wonderful home. I am thankful for friends who, when I say what's next is a little ambiguous, reply "That sounds awesome!" and remind me that this really is what God has been calling me to. 

I am now thankful to be partnered with multiple organizations that are allowing me to follow God's call on my life and preparing me to do it. 

So what's next, you ask? 

You're looking at it. This is my dream and passion and giftedness - helping people do their thing, only better than they could do it alone. That's why my logo is an ampersand symbol (&). It's about connection, bringing things together, collaboration, and so much more. 

A number of wonderful souls spoke into my life over the last decade, helping me take steps I never would have taken alone. And this is another one - I am so excited to fill my days with coaching, consulting, speaking and writing. I'm excited to help you do what you do best, better.

So here we go, folks. It's time to lean in. It's time to do this thing. Thanks for joining me on the journey. Let's see if "getting what I asked for" is everything I dreamed. 

Melissa Cooper2 Comments