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Something Good

March 8, 2014


So much about my church growing up paved the way for horrific things later on.  So very much that sometimes I forget about the good things that came out of it too.  Today, I stayed home by myself, happily doing laundry, moving things around in the kitchen, making lists – home sorts of things.  It felt so good.  And I remembered something.

There was one youth group trip when we went to a vacation cottage/house type place that had room to sleep about a million people.  This was good because I think we brought about a million teenagers.  I remember that I didn’t really want to go because almost nothing about youth group was fun, but that I really did want to go because I always, always hoped that it would change.  I remember I was reading a book that used the word juxtaposition in the first chapter.  I’d had to look it up and it fit my youth group experience exactly.  The ride up was loud.  I remember hearing someone’s candy wrapper crinkling and then the sound of them sucking on the candy.  It was like sandpaper on my ear drums.

We got to the cabin and put our things in our assigned rooms.  There was the obligatory terrible ice-breaker game that everyone else seemed to enjoy.  In this game, one of us was made to sit on another one’s lap and the objective was for the sitter to get the other person to smile.  After each attempt, the one being made to smile would have to say, ” Honey I Love You, But I Just Can’t Smile.” This involved either being chosen or (worse?) not chosen to be sat upon.  It involved being touched.  It involved interacting in a way that made no sense to me in the context of the church.  Worst of all, EVERYONE else seemed to think it was not only perfectly normal, but fun.  Maybe it was for them.  For me it was simply awful.

The order of events is fuzzy in my memory, but at some point during that trip, a huge game of Capture the Flag was planned.  This was the height of horrors for me.  Outside, competitive team sports, loud, and to be perfectly honest, I had no idea how to play any of these games because no one taught me when I was younger.  It was like throwing me into a party with drunken Hungarian-speaking knife throwers and expecting me to know where to stand so I wouldn’t get hit.  Even thinking about it now, I get nauseated.

As everyone else scrambled to get hats and coats, shouting taunts, and generally getting louder and more excited, I lingered, trying to find a way out of this.  And someone (oh, how I wish I could remember who) gave me permission to stay behind and make cookies instead.  Now, the cookies must have been planned before hand because we had the ingredients and my grandmother’s recipe with us, but the timing was unexpected.  Just one time, someone noticed that I needed something different and they took the time and thought to make it happen.


my kitchen – a favorite place

I know that no group experience can be perfect for all of those involved.  I know that my youth leaders never intended for youth group to be horrible.  I know that I will always be thankful for that hour of quiet cookie-baking.  I know that moment in that cabin in that place whose name I can’t even remember will forever influence the way I watch my children as they are invited to participate in activities.  I can be at peace with that.


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