I’ve been involved with my youth group for about 4 years. And in those 4 years, I learned some of life’s toughest lessons that you can’t really learn anywhere else. I’ve had the honor of meeting some of the best leaders and listening to some of the best speakers. I’ve learned so much in the past few years and I will take every lesson I’ve learned to college with me and cherish them for the rest of my life. Being that I only have just a short time left in the youth ministry, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite and some of my hardest coming-to-God moments in hopes of enlightenment to the younger generation.
This is also a continuous thank-you to Mark Cox, the BEST youth pastor ever, and other leaders that have inspired me throughout my walk with Christ.
To be honest, the first Wednesday night service I went to, I absolutely hated it.
Sorry Mark, this has nothing to do with you, but maybe a little.
It was Fall of 2009 and I remember exactly what I wore, the first (and only) person that talked to me, and the exact lesson Mark was teaching that night- “Actin’ a Fool.”
I hated it for many different reasons.
When I started attending the Ten10 services, I was in middle school and I had the whole “emo/scene” look going for me: heavy, black eyeliner, my huge skate shoes, my over sized hoodies, baggy skinny jeans, and a plain tee shirts.
I was easily “unapproachable” and I immediately felt judged the second I walked in. I felt like how a lot of people feel going to church for the first time, unwanted and ignored. (Which now I know was partially my fault.)
I sat in the middle of a few different people in the game room, but nobody approached me. So I stared at my phone and pretended to text my ‘friends’ (I, in fact, didn’t have texting abilities on my phone at that time) and occasionally looked around as if I was there by myself on purpose, patiently waiting for my ‘friends’ to show up. After about 30 minutes of no interaction, I went outside. I remember the nicest kid I’ve ever met approached me and asked my name and invited me to sit by him during the service. I of course accepted in desperation of a friend. My outfit piqued his interest and we had a nice, 5 minute talk about skateboarding. I remember how he thought it was so cool that I was into that and I even promised I’d teach him sometime. But sadly, after a few weeks, I never saw him again. I will always cherish his acceptance, boldness and kindness to a complete stranger and hopefully one day I can thank him for this.
I remember walking into the youth sanctuary and was in awe. I had never seen anything so fun before. The walls were bare and there wasn’t any “cool props” at the time, but the energy was magnificent. Everyone looked so happy. I wanted a part of that. But, where I was with God and myself at the time, I was too shy to introduce myself to anyone. I sat by my new ‘friend’ D. (I don’t know how to spell his name so I’ll just use the first letter), and observed the room. The countdown begin with several video clips that Mark put together of people doing stupid stuff (It may be a sin to laugh at people getting hurt, but come on, you just can’t help yourself. Sorry God.) Then the worship team started and everyone ran to the front. “Whoa”, I thought, “this is pretty sketchy.” I was so uncomfortable. (NO, NOT AWKWARD MARK COX, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE) When we sat back down, Mark started his lesson on “acting a fool” and how God looks past our mistakes and still loves us unconditionally. I hated/loved this lesson.
Prior to that night, I had made a lot of different mistakes throughout middle school. I made poor decisions and was completely broken. I had already gotten out of a rough patch and I thought I was done getting lectured.
I was getting lectured by a guy I barely even knew, indirectly pointing out my flaws and how I had been acting foolish. I was angry. Mark may not have known at that moment everything I had done, but me and God and a select few people did and I didn’t like being indirectly called out.
But, God has a funny way of using our mistakes to help us get back on our feet.
Which leads to my first lesson: Proverbs 26:11.
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”
Mark used this scripture a lot in this series and it has followed me since then.
What this scripture is saying is that dogs are foolish because they “return to their vomit”, which means that they, well, you know, go back and eat their puke. Disgusting image, I know. But it’s such a true picture of a “fool”. Only fools go back to their “vomit”, or a better term, mistakes, and repeat them. Only fools return to their past lives and try to relive them. Only fools return time and time again and repeat their bad decisions.
I understood this all too well. Things weren’t working out for me because I kept returning to the same people, I kept repeating my bad decisions and I kept reliving my mistakes. This was not the route I wanted to go. I was miserable. I was unhappy. I was paralyzed and stuck in such a funk because I kept trying the same thing over and over, which only led to my brokenness every single time.
I didn’t like realizing this. And to be honest, I didn’t want to go back to church that following Wednesday. But, God kept pushing me (and my parents too) to go back. I figured that since nothing else was working out, I might as well try something new.