On any given night of youth group, I am far more likely to feel like I’m doing nothing in the lives of my seventh grade girls than that I am an integral part of their spiritual development. But as if to say “don’t quit now,” God tends to encourage me just when I’m feeling as overwhelmed as ever.
Last week was just such a scenario. I had gotten up to the youth room far behind my small group. Thankfully, they had saved a seat for me, but there were 11 girls tonight in my group, and three were brand new. New kids make me nervous as it is, not to mention I was never going to be able to keep them all quiet and off their cell phones the whole time without resorting to whacking each one on the head. Having slightly more self-control than that, I stayed in my seat, praying the night would go okay. 

I happened to be sitting next to one of my favorite seventh graders. (Whether I should or not, I do have favorites.) Addie joined us just over a year ago and I’ve gotten to know her fairly well in this short time. Although you’d never know it by the amount of jokes she cracks, Addie’s parents have been fighting a lot lately. Neither of them knows the Lord, so she has no frame of reference for Godly living besides her Christian friends, Wednesday nights, and me. So I’ve been writing letters to Addie. (We’re officially “pen pals”) But after a few weeks of hearing nothing from her I was beginning to wonder if my 10-letters-worth of words really mattered much.     

All that said, I was trying to figure out how to keep my 11 girls off their cell phones, when Addie leaned over and informed me she couldn’t see. I asked her if she wanted to switch seats. She said no, but a moment later she’d found a solution. She leaned over with her head on my shoulder and stayed put. “You have a comfy shoulder,” she said. “I can see better now.” 

Her head was only there for about 30 seconds, but my night was turned upside down. Addie has had a tough year and I’ve tried to be there for her. But is my “being there” really that important to Addie, or to any of the girls for that matter? With so many in the group we rarely get to talk about the night’s lesson. A lot of times I leave thinking, “Well. I was there. Is that worth anything at all?”

Though I know she had no idea she was doing it, with one rest of the head Addie told me, “Yes. Showing up is worth a lot.” The gesture was small, but it represented trust, and the recognition for me that Addie now has a believer in her life to look up to, to love, and be loved by. And with a lot of prayer, maybe she really can “see better now.” I certainly can.

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