Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So, no more Labor Days off for this chick. You should know I'm saying that with tongue-in-cheek . . . why would I have had Labor Day off when I worked at Starbucks? The way I have found myself employed during said weekend the last two years has been much more enjoyable and rewarding.
Last year was scarier, though. This year, though I can by no means call myself an old hand, I felt much more relaxed about my church's annual Labor Day youth retreat, affectionately (and oddly formally) known as "Conference." Which is good, since I was officially in charge this year.
This year we had a video curriculum, which the kids made no bones about making fun of, but I didn't really care, because they were still interacting with it and we still had some great discussions. The theme was "Friends," and we talked about loneliness, peer pressure, comparisons, and identity, while the kids solidified friendships with each other that I'm pretty sure some of them had forgotten about.
In the cabin of girls that I stayed with, we talked about Jesus' meeting the woman at the well, and how He might approach the situation if he were to go on the show Paris Hilton's My New BFF. (We talked about this because we were coming up with a skit.) Probably not too differently . . . although we hypothesized that Paris might not have given Him as warm a reception as the Samaritan woman ultimately did.
During a small-group Bible study group, one of the kids asked, "You say you believe the Bible is true and is from God and everything. But . . . isn't there ever anything in there that you disagree with?" Another kid said, "I know God is good and everything, but sometimes He seems really mean."
It may sound strange to say, but I love these questions. Not because they're easy--they're not. (If they were, a lot more of my friends would be on speaking terms with Jesus right now.) But I love that these kids are actually thinking about this stuff, daring to ask the questions--even of someone who might be, to their manner of thinking, a little obsessed about the whole thing.
The other great upshot of the weekend was that it seemed like everyone remembered how much they like being together. So that the following weekend, when, on a whim, I put out an invite to go to a Christian concert and ride the rides at Six Flags, 13 kids showed up instead of the 2 or 3 I was expecting. About that many came to our youth group kick-off meeting the next day, too. There is also a sudden influx of adults who want to help out.
I can't trace all the whys and wherefores of how this is all coming together, and I'm the kind of person that often looks around the happy stuff for the big crash that I always feel is sure to come around the bend, but I can't deny the good, either. So far the worst that's happened was that I had a headache for two days when I got back from Conference . . . but it was worth it.