A week ago today, I headed out for youth camp with my brother-in-law's truck/camper combo and our trailer filled with Costco food fixin's for 23 people. We had four days planned out with tent camping, fireside talks, rafting, and an all day ropes course adventure. Part of me asked myself what in the world did I think I was doing while the other half of me looked forward to the exciting adventure.
Truth be told, hanging around with our youth group is an addictive shot in the arm for me.
At 36 years old, one would probably figure I am just trying to make sure I stay young. Honestly, I have occasionally wondered that very same thing myself. Really, with all of my responsibilities as wife, mother, teacher, and childrens pastor....why would I put myself in the shoes of being a self-appointed secretary who tries to remember to fill in administrative gaps and have ample energy left over to smile and share my motherly heart with the teens?
Being a mom......
at times I have felt so insecure about my position. After all, I am MOM. Why would they want me there anyway? General society behaviors scream out that teens look for any escape to get away from their parents? So, aren't I infringing on their precious time of self-awareness and individuality?
Time and time again though, I learn fresh that they minister to me just as much as I minister to them. You have the freedom to say that I am biased, but I believe with all my heart that our group does not display the "normal and expected" characteristics of teen-hood that so many of us have had to deal with. Yes, they have their ups and downs just like everyone else on this earth, but they are resilient, strong, and don't want to be classified as society's "typical".
Even though our group is filled with a combination of jocks and computer techies, musicians and introverts.....there are truly no cliques or self absorbed neon signs in our bunch. Despite character differences and learned experiences, they genuinely encourage and care for one another as a whole.
It is by these continual demonstrations in equality of heart that they teach, minister, and impact my life. It is in this realm where I see that they encourage me to be all the different facets that I need to be.
As an administrator I heard them say, "Thanks Julie for getting me those permission slips. I couldn't have gone to camp without them."
As the cook I heard, "Wow you are the best! We are never going to starve with all of the food that we have here."
As the nurse I saw gratefulness in their eyes as I doled out bandaids, tylenol, ice packs, and prayers over their bodily mishaps.
The mom side of me was so blessed when they physically jumped off that 80 foot free fall swing and yelled out, "Julie I am going to need a hug when I get down from here!"
And as a part of the group, I can still hear their cheers of encouragement as I fought off my fear of heights to climb 50 feet up a tree and slide down an 800 foot long zip line.
See, as these teens are growing up and learning who they are in the world, they have already mastered what some adults have failed to learn.......and that is the fact that heart and moment matters.
The truth is, I need them just as much as they need me. And it has nothing to do with age.
It has everything to do with heart.