Life Groups (v.) - A group of people walking through and doing life together.
As of last week, my first year of leading Junior High Life Groups is over. I never expected in my entire life that Tuesday would become my favorite day of the week, but quickly it did. For the past 8 or 9 months, every Tuesday I had the chance to meet with a handful of students and amazing leaders (Shoutout to volunteers everywhere that keep youth workers sane). Within these months I have learned probably more than I have taught them, but here are just a few things I have picked up.
The first is that, being prepared and having a plan is great, but dropping everything and changing that plan is okay, and sometimes even better than the first plan. You can have an amazing lesson, crazy fun games, and perfect discussion questions but in an instant that can switch to sitting on bean bags, building candles for Christmas Eve service and laughing about crazy stories or even going on a hike to find Top of the World but ending up roaming around a neighborhood waving to cars and crying from laughter. We can't be so controlled by our plans, because honestly God's plan is so much better than ours will ever be.
These past few months have also taught me that, in middle school some things never change, but also a lot has changed. The awkward body changes, overwhelming smell of body spray (or lack of), boy likes girl, girl likes boy drama, don't worry, it's all still there. However, with technology in the grips of almost every tween and teenagers hand, status is no longer bound to the school yard but lurks behind every corner and shadow. With Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, who you are is defined by the amount of followers, likes, subscribes, and perfectly captioned filtered photo's you have. It breaks my heart to watch and listen to so many students bash each other and themselves because they don't look like someone else, have as many friends as that person, or simply don't understand how worthy and loved they are. Our worth is not dependent on what someone else says, our worth comes solely from the One who created us! In the words of Brené Brown, I want every student to understand that they are "imperfect and wired for struggle, but worthy of love and belonging."
I think one of the biggest things I learned this round of Life Groups though, is that I couldn't see myself doing anything else. I may complain, get frustrated, confused, overwhelmed and sometimes irritated but I honestly love what I get to do. All the times that make working in ministry incredibly difficult will never outnumber the times of beating a student in ping-pong, watching them wrestle with questions, get stoked about something they accomplished, or even the amount of ceiling tiles that have been broken. Because each tile went out with a story and every time I look at that different shaped, different designed tile in the ceiling I'm reminded of the student (or students), the event, and laughter that ensued right before, during, and after the so called event. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
To be honest I forget these moments and I don't want to go through this season of life racing to get to the next. As a friend (and Kung Fu Panda) reminded me, "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, that's why it's called the present."
Don't get caught up in your plan, detours make some incredible memories.
You are worthy of love and belonging.
Is what you are doing worth the messiness it may come with?
From one human to the next,