I'll Fly Away - Changing The View, Changing The Heart
Looking back on it, my time as a youth group attender wasn't as fun as thought.
Well that's maybe too strong of a statement. I should explain.
As a teen I went to a youth group in my home town. Each week on a Friday night, many young men and women would leave the four corners of our city to join in the middle for worship, teaching, connecting and more. And back then? It was the best. I lived for it, grew in and from and it put me on the path of life that I'm in now.
But looking back on it from this side of the mountain, it wasn't all that fun. It's weird to learn that people didn't really like each other all that much or that we struggled with various spiritual aliments that could have saved us PAINFUL moments as adults but said nothing so we could remain leaders. It's weird to look back on my own immature moments, dealings with lust and anger and desires for attention. It's weird to look back on those moments where 60+ people would sit in a room and talk about "what's wrong with our youth group", which always turned into veiled personal shots. It's weird to go over old conversations to realize that someone openly didn't really like you but "loved you in the Lord" (and that you did that too....), or that they suddenly wanted to tell you that they didn't like you (or something you did YEARS ago) but now forgive you in the Lord (which then leads you to rehash buried, forgotten anger...). And it's weird to go back to my home church and barely see anyone their from that moment in time. It's like it wasn't even real.
Now some broken relationships came over time simply due to distance, bad phone plans and the normal moments of life. And others came from people not seeing eye to eye and openly sharing that opinion (we went through a faze of "God knows my heart", which would allow someone to say whatever they wanted...kinda like Ricky Bobby saying "With all due respect" in Talladega Nights). I mean my best friend and I from that time haven't been on speaking terms since 2005 if that gives any indication of a collective brokenness.
I should say this: Our pastor was and is one of the best men I know. This is not a rant on him. In fact I feel like I should apologize for my part in giving his heart palpitations.
Why blog about this? Well for a number of years, I have focused on this part of my experience, to the point of not wanting to go home, avoiding reunions...immature things like that. A part of that is being the type of guy who hates too many "remember when" conversations (i.e. looking back sometimes is because we don't want to look ahead) but a part of that is my own perspective...AND my fear that I pastored a group that will overtime show to be as we were.
But then I bought a song last week on iTunes that changed my perspective. And it took me back to an amazing moment at youth. It was a Saturday night at one of our retreats. We had just had a life-altering time with God and each other. We were emotionally spent but ready for 'late night'. All of the sudden, a gospel song came on and like out of a movie, we all broke into a synchronized dance. From the loudest ones to the shyest; at that moment, we were all connected, all one...a family. No drama. Just laughter and dance. And so, while I could look back on my youth experience with a chip on my shoulder and a sense of personal embarrassment, I choose to change my perspective and remember the good moments. Like that one.
It all comes back to choice. What we CHOOSE to see. What we CHOOSE to do. It's choice that brings someone to forgive someone rather than to only see how they got hurt. It's choice that causes someone to give rather than hoard. It's choice to be faithful. Choice to work hard. And It's choice that brings a man to worship God just days after saying "see you in eternity" his 31 year-old wife who went home to be with Jesus and his son currently suffers from leukaemia. Men like Scott, who I just mentioned, inspire me to choose right over wrong.
To dance rather than damn.
To heal rather than hurt or hurt others.
To change perspectives.
And so today, I do.
P.S. And in case you were wondering. Here's the song via YouTube. And based on my last paragraph, it has a dual purpose. Listen and see.