I have a dream. And no I am no Martin Luther King. My dream is more altruistic than that. It involves, me a deserted island and my family. It involves very few people, dealing with them, socializing with them. Of course, in my dream, since it's a dream I also have cable and Netflix and full electricity.
And yet, here I am as a youth leader. LOL! It's completely not me. If it were me, I'd hide on a deserted island or in my home. I don't like crowds, I don't like trying to be social with other people. I can do it, I can do all of those things, but as Elizabeth would say, "It's not my favorite." My favorite thing to do is for it to be snowing and Winter and snowed in the house with the girls, watching cheesy movies with jammies on and blankets and being cocooned from the world.
Growing up I was the odd duck. I was a total book nerd, I knew the librarians and my teachers better than my own peers. They didn't tell me I was ugly or bark at me in the halls. They knew what I was capable of and encouraged me love of books, my love of music, my voice. Those teachers unknowingly saved my life. Before we moved to Great Bend, KS, things were bad in school for me. Things were so bad that Mom and her best friend and that friend's husband had a plan in case Mom got a teaching job that didn't require us to move. I was severely depressed and although I didn't tell Mom at the time, I had a plan in my head to take my own life. I didn't tell anyone for a long time. But God knew, He knew that I needed to move, I needed a fresh start and that Great Bend, KS would be a great place for me to get that start. In Great Bend, I had no past. No one could tell anyone who tried to be my friend that they should stay away from me and that I was weird.
In their defense, I was weird. We lived in a small town where most families were still together and I didn't have a dad because he was dead. I sang all the time. I was from a private school where the girls only wore dresses. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I loved Jesus and I was in a public school where most kids listened to secular music. I didn't know who Michael Jackson was until I was in middle school.
This is one of the reasons why I do reach out to teens. I understand those who come from broken homes, who are fatherless. I get the feelings of helplessness. I spent my psychology internship working with Teen Hotline to help teens who called in - I was sounding board, a listening ear and occasionally I was the one quietly (in my head quietly) praying for them.
I will never be the youth leader who is at some large church working with teens from non-integrated parents. I have no way to identify with them. I don't understand the concept of having both parents with you and never facing a huge challenge. I worked for the money I had to go to youth functions. I earned a lot of my cash from babysitting. I get the concept of yearning for what cannot be (both parents there for Thanksgiving or Christmas) and the agony of knowing it most likely won't happen.
Growing up and even into the first few years of my marriage to my wonderful husband, Chris, I wondered what was the point of my life? What was God's purpose for me and why was my life so tough? Then Sarah came to live with us. I realized then that losing my dad, an abusive step dad, the cruelty in middle school and high school - it was so I can sit with teens who are struggling with real problems. It was so when I became Sarah's bonus mom, I could understand some of the garbage that happened to her before she came to our home. In going through those trials and tribulations, I understand and can tell teens who are struggling that it won't always be this way. God has a plan for your life and you are here for a purpose. And somehow in that knowledge, I suddenly don't care that my life wasn't sweet and peachy keen.
This doesn't mean I still don't yearn for my dream. I do, sometimes I want it so badly I can almost taste it, but if God's plan is for me to reach out to teens who are hurting and struggling then I can wait for my dream to come true. Even it means I don't get it until I die and go to Heaven.
Have a good week.