We’ve been in Killeen with the youth group for two weeks now, and I’ve been resisting panic as I’ve been flooded with vivid memories of my own high school experience. I didn’t really make much of a splash in high school; I was always most content when I was propping up a wall with one or two friends, enjoying the antics of the self-confident from afar. Although I still have to actively resist my wallflower tendencies, I’ve felt as though I’ve achieved significant personal growth in this area in the years since graduation.
Unfortunately, it just takes a few minutes in the youth room on Sunday morning to bring all of my worst social habits back into play. Although I know that I should be the confident adult, introducing myself to students and expressing a sincere interest in their lives, I still find myself wanting to squeeze between the soda machines and watch the ping-pong matches in peace. Or, if I’m really bold, maybe I’ll sit down next to the girl who reminds me of myself in high school (slightly unkempt hair, shirt buttoned up too high, slightly defensive standoffish manner) and ask her what she’s been reading lately.
I’ve tried for the last two days to reason with myself. I was very blessed by adults who befriended me when I was in high school, and I feel, in a pay-it-forward kind of way, that I owe it to God to do the same thing for lost and lonely youth now that I am older. Besides, what do I have to be afraid of? My hair and clothes are almost always attractive and appropriate. I have physical indicators of success- husband, job, house, car, dogs. I have vast amounts of wisdom and experience that I could share with these impressionable youth. And yet I can’t seem to shake my sixteen-year-old self, cowering behind my I Love Lucy day planner in the face of these girls with their boisterous laughter and slightly manic energy.
I’m still debating whether I’ll try to stick it out or find my true calling rocking other people’s babies in the infant nursery instead. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the easy company of my fourth grade pals during the week, relaxing in their uncomplicated and easy-to-win affection.