I'm doing something this weekend that I swore I'd never do again.
I'm leading the Bible study for our annual winter youth retreat.
Last year I naively volunteered to lead a group and it was a disaster. I was just married, totally new to this youth pastor stuff, and didn't have any idea what I was doing. With a roomful of eyes staring at me, I squeaked out a lesson, inwardly cringing the entire time. Everyone was dead silent, blinking and curious to see what the new youth pastor's wife had to say. It was a lot of pressure. And I hated it.
But, much to my surprise, I agreed to do it again this year, this time with the middle school girls. Maybe I'm a little more comfortable around the kids, or maybe I don't feel as much pressure since I know Trevor and I won't be youth pastors much longer please, Lord.
This "leader" stuff has never come naturally to me, and I don't particularly enjoy it. I don't know the right things to say. I don't know how to lead young, impressionable girls out of Justin Bieber-centered conversations and into Jesus.
But at least now I know it's not my strength. I know it's not something I'm particularly good at, so I won't be as shocked and embarrassed if it doesn't go the way I imagined it would.
And I may not have many words of wisdom, but at least I can say, "Hey, I've been twelve before. I know what it's like." Maybe they don't need more answers; maybe they just need someone a little bit older than them to say, "I, too, have made the mistake of cutting my own bangs. I, too, have had crushes on boys named Chris who had buck teeth and wore too much hair gel."
I, too, have worn a sparkly top to the school dance, only to realize later that I had worn it backwards the entire night. (At least now I know why no one asked me to slow dance.)
I hate cowl neck shirts to this day.
I probably won't say anything particularly moving or life changing. But I can pull on my Hollister sweatpants and glittery nail polish and meet them where they're at. I can bake them cinnamon rolls and let them beat me at "Just Dance". (Let's be honest, even my husband beats me at Just Dance.)
Trevor asked me once, if I could do one thing to help people, what would it be? And I thought about it a while and finally said, "I would want to help people feel understood."
I know what it's like to feel awkward and out of place. In middle school, at parties, at church. And I want to let those middle school girls know, in probably the most awkward stage in their lives, that they're not alone. If nothing else, I want to create an environment that says, "Hey, you can be real here. You can be you."
Because I need that, too. I need to get comfy and be myself. Heather the Youth Pastor's wife won't be there this weekend, but Heather who slides on hardwood in her socks and says "like" too much will. I like her better, anyway.