Last Sunday the Friends Youth Group led the 9:00am and 11:00am worship services. A major focus of the service was to share their experiences from the mission trip they took to Albuquerque last month. I’ve been reflecting on the service and their thoughts about what they enjoyed and what challenged them, and I learned a lot from their words. Here are a few of the lessons they taught me.
Honesty. Every night on the mission trip we gave shoutouts to people in our group, and this shoutout goes to Iris. When asked what challenged her on the trip, she talked about how difficult it was to be around people 24/7. She answered this question while sitting with said people, and I admired her honesty. I am someone who values my alone time because it is important for me to be able to check-in with myself and be attentive to any needs I may be neglecting. However, I don’t always ask for that space, which is often to the detriment of my health, or can lead to resentment. Advocating for yourself and voicing your boundaries is self-care, and it’s self-love. Thanks for that lesson, Iris.
Acknowledgment. This shoutout goes to Alejandro. It is not lost on me that I asked challenging questions during the youth Q&A. It is my hope as someone who teaches them that they always feel like their perspective on challenging issues is valuable. Moreover, I hope that they will also feel heard when they ask their own hard questions. But if we go back to the honesty lesson, I will be transparent in sharing that I struggle with how to answer these questions, too. I often worry that I’m not doing enough, so I stay quiet. But Alejandro reminded us that the more that we talk about challenging issues, and the more that we acknowledge the experiences of others, “we can start to make this world a little better.”
Balance. When the youth were asked about their experience on the mission trip, there were a few answers related to their service projects and lessons, but there were just as many answers about how they spent their free time. This shoutout goes to the whole group. We’re constantly thinking about our jobs, our obligations, community projects, feeling accomplished, or whether we make a difference in the world. But this cannot be our sole focus, it just can’t, we will burn out. Additionally, we are surrounded by a deluge of information flowing from our phones, televisions, computers, radios, and newspapers. Turning off and tuning out at the end of the day does not mean that we don’t care. The projects and lessons learned on the mission trip were important, but so were the baby goats, the skating rink, the haunted basketball court, four square, and the town of Clovis. Amid to-do lists, deadlines, and headlines, be silly, and acknowledge your joy because it is sacred.
To the Friends Church Youth Group, thank you for all that you teach us. We’re proud of you.