Another Moment

I stress over the topics like this. I want to give you guys good pieces into who I am by giving you good moments in my life that I think are integral to who I am in this time of my life. I have so many moments that it's hard to pick just one. However I think I've settled on a good one...

When I was a teen, church, specifically my youth group, was a big part of my life. I loved going to church and spending time with my friends in the youth group. We were really like family. Our youth pastor, his wife and the other adults that worked with us purposefully had us participate in activities that were intended to force us to grow as a unit. One body. I learned SO MUCH about myself in those 6 years; lessons I use to this day and I'm eternally grateful for that time.

However, I suffered from the same conflicted feelings in that group that I did in many of my friend groups at that time in my life (and sometimes do even now). I felt outside of everything. like I toed the line of being on the outside looking in all the time. It was like I was just window shopping or a voyeur in my own life and in my own relationships. It's an odd feeling, for sure. These feelings ran right up against knowing that my youth group liked me. I was always included in outings outside of church activities and a few of them even called me frequently for advice or just to talk (I told someone recently, I've been a counselor all my life...).

Every year our youth group spent a week at camp. Camp was always intense, lots of bible study but lots of team building activities. We were with each other 24 hours a day from midday Monday to midday Saturday and all of our weeks culminated with a night spent sharing what the week had meant to us. Each year the how of sharing differed. The 4th year we went to camp, I was a junior in high school and most of the folks in the group that I'd grown up with were seniors and preparing to graduate. The year had also been a hard one for me -- I was beginning to feel especially outside of everything -- all that teen angst was really hitting its peak and I'd even begun to have conflict with some of the adults working with our youth group -- this was a major thing because I was the only teen the adults included in on some private meetings/information.

Bracelets were a big deal in our group. At one point I think I had 3-4 bracelets all signifying various ways I was dedicated to the youth group. The way they decided we would express what camp had meant to us that year would be to give each other beads for our bracelet. We were given 7 beads and we had to give one bead to the 7 people who helped us through camp the most. There being 30+ teens on the trip, and with the sorts of all-hands-on-deck activities we participated in, it was absolutely numbing to think I'd have to only peg 7 people who helped me the most. In the back of my mind, I was also anticipating how many beads I might get -- I felt like if I got 5, I'd be happy.

As we all walked around a small room giving each other beads, I took beads from friends and shoved them in my pocket. I was amazed at the things people told me I did that helped them that week. Little things that I didn't remember doing or felt like anyone would have done really spoke to people. Some people were more broad and commented on how I'd helped them the entire time they'd been in the group while other people could specify the very moment. I was absolutely shocked at how many people noticed me.

At the end of the night, I pulled the beads out of my pocket and counted 17. Over half of the group felt like I was one of 7 people who helped them significantly in some way. I really was touched and so thankful. That moment did a lot for me on a personal level and really made me want to go out and a)continue to do those little things that I think most people never notice I do and b)be more cognizant of those who do those little things for me.

I've had moments similar to then, since. Many moments, in fact. But that was my first time and it really changed a lot for me in terms of my expectations of others and of myself. I love for knowing that I've been a positive impact on someone -- even when they don't say it to me directly, it does something to know that my existence made someone else's existence better. However, I also get a real kick out of doing things for people that they never notice. I really just love knowing the people I care about are being cared for. Ya dig? ;)

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