Sunday, February 28, 2016

An Open Letter of Thanks to My Youth Group: From a "Former" Member

     Thank you for challenging me to be vulnerable. I've experienced enough of what adults like to call the "real world" that I've become too guarded. I know what it feels like to open up to someone only to regret it later, and for that reason I try to be careful about who I share my thoughts and feelings with. But in the midst of all the times you've started talking before I've finished my sentence, usually to say something completely off topic, I've noticed something. You seem to respect me in your own way, similar to the way siblings respect each other. You sometimes challenge what I say, but that proves that you are listening to me. It has also encouraged me to practice standing up for myself and explaining my thoughts, instead of just becoming defensive at the first sign of tension. I have a long way to go in that area, but thank you for making me feel confident enough to try.
     Thank you for making me laugh. This one might raise some eyebrows, because there may be some people who believe that laughing in church is irreverent, but I don't see it that way. Our laughter is reserved for appropriate times, and I see it as a sign of the happiness that comes from being together. I personally don't think God minds hearing us laugh, and I would say that it's better to be in church and laughing than to not be in church at all.
      I get so caught up in going to work and trying to act like an adult and going to class and trying to act smart that sometimes I forget to have fun. Whenever we get together, there always seems to be a lot of laughter. I can honestly say that I've never met a more hilarious group of people, and I'm not even sure you're aware of how funny you're being. I know that even at your age, there are already pressures to "do something with your life" whether it be through sports, academics, or something else, but you are still so carefree and being around you reminds me how important it is to be in the moment and enjoy the people I'm with, and to stop worrying for a while, even if it's just for an hour every week. 
     I often laugh to myself about how ironic it is that God would provide me with an opportunity to spend so much time with teenagers at this point in my life, because that is the one group of people that I never felt like I could relate to. I did not enjoy being a teenager, and as soon as I turned twenty I felt a sense of relief that I had survived those years that confused me so much. Honestly, I had a hard time fitting in during high school, and there were lots of people who excluded me or just weren't very nice to me. There were probably some people who I wasn't very nice to for selfish and misguided reasons. Because of this, I made my return to youth group with a chip on my shoulder.  But you've been so accepting of me, and lately I've noticed that I'm starting to let my guard down a little more each time I'm with you. To my own surprise, I've caught myself thinking lately that maybe I was too quick to judge all teenagers because of how I was treated by a select few. God is using you to teach me a lesson I should have learned a long time ago, and I'm very thankful for that. Thank you for proving me wrong in the greatest way possible. I guess you're not so bad after all. 

I really tried to find a fitting bible verse, but I saw this and it just seemed right. What can I say, we're a group that best shows our love through sarcasm sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. Love this Jennie! Something I need to hear too!