I came across a write-up I did for our church monthly-bulletin-thingy a couple yeas ago. It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately and still feel strongly about. I brought it a bit up to date, so please, join in on the dialog:
A while ago, on a Thursday night at Escape(Youth Group), Ben-b and I did an add-lib session as a result of some miss-communication on my part. Typically, the adult leading the discussion for Thursday night knows a week or two in advance. This night called for some old-fashioned shoot-in from the hip.
Ben-b had the issue of authenticity through vulnerability in application to our own lives that Jesus demonstrated in the gospels brewing in his heart. So we had a direction and a topic that we wanted to hit up, a tough one at that. Anyway, I had one of those, ‘lighting struck my brain’ moments during our hip shoot-in session. I know it’s hard to believe, being scatter-brained and all.
So I opted to hit it this way: interview one of them on a ‘should-you-choose-to-accept’ basis; bring them up in front of the group; ask one of them questions that rarely, if ever, come up in the midst of every day life. This way we get to know each other beyond superficiality, get to practice, and demonstrate vulnerability/authenticity. So we were running low on time. I called one of them up. I interviewed that person. It was a big hit. We thanked that person. Before I could ask the next person to come up, adolescents were jumping up wanting to be victimized by this barrage of revealing questions. This happened again after the next interview.
It was 8:30. Youth group was over. I told them that we would have one more interview and that they were dismissed if they needed or wanted. By 8:45 only a few teens had bailed. We continue to do an interview or two every Thursday night at Escape. It’s nuts.
I share this story because these young adults are anxious to be known. They do not want to hide who they are. They want you to know them. They are willing. They want to share their hearts, their burdens, their issues, their talents, their junk, their joys. I can’t help but wonder if we “grown-ups” relate, or at least demonstrate this type of vulnerability? We live in a culture that encourages ego-casting, shaping our own identity based on political perspectives, and other frivolous ideals such as appearance and what not. Being “grown-up’s” suggests that we’ve been around a while. So we have been, and are, more susceptible to this cultural influence. That being said, I can not help but wonder at what point in a person’s life we complete this process and begin life wrapped up inside social conventions. At what point do we loose grip of being real, authentic, vulnerable and become OK with that? As a case in point, I find it easy myself to have high expectations for these kids’ being open and real, while by nature I myself am not. One of the reasons I love the younger generations is because they offer us so much to learn from. I too want to want to be known for who I am. I too do not want to live (( in that tension of )) hiding who I truly am.
My prayer, O’God, is that you empower these generations to teach, and exemplify to us all how to have child-like faith, to embrace the person you created us to be, and to be O.K. with that.