I sat with a couple of girls tonight asking them if they wanted to share their obvious pain with me, or if I could pray with them. We had no previous relationship. I exchanged awkward hugs with these girls while maneuvering around my clinging progeny who were still awake way past the point of reason. It’s kind of disorienting for me. This whole youth-thing used to be my show. I was the one who knew the kids to their cores. I knew when things went down in their families. I took them to rehab, brought food and beds to households and prayed with kids who were dealing with assault. I twice grieved with youth after the death of a parent and twice with families after the death of their youth. I knew the game. I lived my life with and for these kids and I feel like a stranger now.
Maybe that’s why I want to be a speaker, so I can be there for the “big” moments. I think it’s probably an ego thing. I like to feel like a big deal, and there isn't a gig like being a speaker to put me in the centre of attention. If I can take any lessons from my past life of youth ministry, my current struggle to become meaningfully reconnected to youth ministry, topped by my current life situation as mom to a toddler and preschooler it should be this: forget about being some big speaker. Those most important parts of life are not the big, emotionally charged moments. They are the small moments in between where we learn to live. Everyone loves a good high - even a good, clean, youth rally one - but they aren't sustainable. Connect with the people who are available to connect with and live out that crucified love in a way that is real and meaningful and helps us all stumble a little farther in the right direction. I don’t need to tell people I don’t know about the transformative love of Christ. I just have to let my life be transformed by it so it can spill out around me. So the people I know know how dear they are. How much love there is for them, and that I’ll do my best to be there to help hold them up when they need the bracing. I don’t need a youth group to do God’s work in. Not my old youth group, and not even a new one in my new town.
I’ve got two little lights flitting around my ankles who need to be kept burning bright, a strong, energetic visionary who could use better support and encouragement from me, and a handful of budding friendships with amazing people who I have so much to learn from. In fact, I need to simplify even more. At this point I often think it’s more about what I can offer, but true relationship is simply about abiding with one another. I was usually mentor and not simply friend; being in reciprocal relationships is pretty new for me. Now I have the space to receive as well as give, and that is a lesson I need to be schooled in.
So maybe I can pursue studies that will make me more theological than I currently am, and maybe I can help out at youth camp with my old, dear friends and their teens, and maybe one day I’ll be able to throw myself back into Youth Ministry full throttle; but now I can go right back to that same old lesson that resonates through my being and annoyingly pops into every piece of writing I attempt. Apparently I have only one lesson to keep learning and therefore only one thing to say to myself (and by extension you, my reader): settle into the here and now, love mightily, keep my heart and head open to learn from and latch on to the grace that is extended to me from so many beauties.
Please excuse me for repeating the same epiphany over and over. I am obviously a slow learner.