Young people are young people. We have all been young once. They will grow out of it just as we did. It’s just a phase before the next phase.
I had pretty much given up on Bar n Bus and the Thursday car park. I had almost given up because the spark was dim. The energy waning. It was time to move on. Do something else. Be somewhere else. Nothing is forever.
Young people in groups get a lot of bad press. They are loud, insular and expect to be left alone – even behaving badly to get that “leaving alone”. I was young once a long time ago. Never really “got” exams. Never found their (mistaken) assumption that I was going university enough for the studying and book work. Instead I spent two years roaming when I should have been in school. I had no interest in university so what reason to get the grades to go to university? So I roamed.
Then a new face in the small crowd of faces.
I forget how much a rebel I was. Except I wasn’t a rebel. I was just a pain in the backside of the establishment. Never enough to be excluded or disciplined. Just enough to think I was “me” – I was doing it my way – that they couldn’t make me fit in.
New faces on a Thursday come and go. Young people are into instant messaging and ego preening, making sure the image fits the perception, being in with the in-crowd (until the in-crowd moves on and the re-positioning begins again).
I was just being me – because I could not see why I was supposed to be “them”. And the more they insisted I was “them” – the more I resisted. Roaming was the answer because resisting takes energy and roaming doesn’t.
GSHJ was at work this evening. All the church words of “ministry” get in the way. Makes the car park just more “church work” – which expects me to “fit-in” when I can see no reason to fit-in. We are not a recruiting team for “established church” – and that is why I have stayed so long.
That night was pure GSHJ – just drawing connections without words or logic. One new face now not so “invisible”. Something drawing me towards this young person that I had never seen or even met or ever talked to.
My roaming was a phase. I didn’t go to university. I went from job to job. Until I realised I was still loving the same job after a couple of years – and still had no desire to leave. My career had found me! So I tried to find my career path – and came up against all that “fitting-in” again. Bummer!
We found ourselves in the same space. A safeguarding same space. Never alone. Always in full view of all. And we found ourselves talking. I don’t do that. I think it intrusive unless it happens like a conversation like any other – like this one. Not forced so that you start talking to me and I am able to report a “good conversation” later.
I heard a story of being expected to fit-in for no reason this young person could see. Of being a pain in the backside – but enough to be excluded AND not let back in. Of highs and lows. This young person’s highs and lows – not mine or God’s. And in the middle of this story – an (almost) invisible tear held back. An almost-tear sealing an unexpected and unsought connection. And later with someone else – a commitment from this young person – not to Bar n Bus (or church) but a commitment to themself: “I will be here in two weeks time.”
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
That night I was a “little children”. My story was not their story. But my story allowed me to connect. To see something precious and special. Something similar that this young person saw in us.
I have no idea what the “Kingdom of God” really means. I have no idea how to tell you to “enter it”. I think you have to hear and see and find your own God – your own God Soft Hands Jesus.
But I AM sure that I will never try and make you “fit-in” with what “God expects”.
And the odd thing …
God Soft Hands Jesus sees something precious and special in that.