God, Romance, and Youth
So, the two people I’m going to talk about in this post may very well read it, and if so, that’s great, because I’m going to brag about them. But, if you’re reading this saying, “Hmm, I think he’s talking about me” you’re probably right.
Ministry is a constant set of up and downs, both with youth and adults. My experience has been mainly with youth. The frustration of working with anyone, including youth, is that you sit at a bible study talking about how we should treat other people and then you see how they treat other people and you just have to shake your head. Basically, despite all my best efforts kids still will be kids and they do stupid things. But for every nine of those experiences, there is one experience that makes youth ministry totally worth it.
Last year a new girl came into our youth group. Her dad had been on staff at the church for a year or two, and had just recently become full-time. With that switch he brought his two daughters, one senior high, one junior high to Northmont. Being the new girl at youth group, especially a youth group that is pretty tight-knit with a lot of friendships well in place is never easy. But overall she did quite well settling in and making new friends. Very early in the year, Lisa, our now former youth director, suggested that this girl should date one of the senior guys in the group. Everyone kind of laughed about it, but no one thought it was a bad idea per say. Well, then they ended up doing our church musical together and everyone and their brother (and sister) knew that they liked one another. It was so obvious that it was almost comical. So, after a while they ended up both admitting they liked one another, went to prom together, all those cute sorts of things that high school couples do.
The thing is that most high school relationships that I see are at best, take it or leave it, and at worst, downright damaging to both parties involved in the relationship. But, there are a few though that you see and you’re like, “yeah, they’re really good for one another.” (I had the great fortune of seeing not just one but two of these relationships in our youth group last year). And when you see one of these, it makes up for watching a bunch of your kids go through one bad relationship after another. Anyway, these two were one of the two relationships where I saw that they spent more time caring about one another than they did fighting, more time being together than complaining about one another to their friends. It’s really cool to see.
Some Christians advocate “courtship” and such, and while I think that’s fine for some people, I think I’ve seen more how dating relationships can really teach people how to communicate in relationships, even if they don’t work out for the long haul. I know in my own life that although my girlfriend from high school and I didn’t work out for the long haul, that that experience was important in my development, and because of it I’m a better fiancé now and will be a better husband in the future.
Anyway, to make a long story short, what I’ve seen in these two’s relationship has proven to me that everything I’ve done is really worth it, because there are kids out there who want to grow in their faith and want to make their faith apart of every aspect of their lives, including their romantic lives. When I gave my testimony one night at church I told everyone that Renee and I pray together every night, and that’s one of the most essential parts of our relationship, and I recommended to everyone that they try it. The other night the girl in the relationship told me that they had started praying together and she shared the strengthening impact it had had on their relationship. And she prefaced it with “We finally took your advice and starting praying together…” It’s statements like that that really do make it all worth it.