I watched my tween expand her wings some this week. I've encouraged her to go to the youth group at church for awhile now, but I don't push it. If I've learned anything in these 40 years it's relationship over religion. More than anything I want my kids to develop their own personal relationship with God. That won't happen better or faster if I constantly force religious type activities. Youth group falls under that list.
But as God would have it, a few weeks ago I dropped off our Mom Group book to a mom who has recently moved to the area and had baby #7. We enjoyed a visit while I was there and found out our girls do somewhat know each other at their public school. This particular mom talked about youth group and her daughter's involvement, she encouraged me to tell my daughter to try it. So of course I brought that up when I tucked her in that night. She looked skeptically at me. Now at least she knew someone, I suggested--she didn't agree or disagree. As is my nature on this topic, I didn't push.
After some minor friend hurt at school this week, she told me she thought maybe she should try out that youth group thing. I smiled and said I'd look into it so I made arrangements that she could attend. As luck would have it, the one girl she knew happened to go home sick the day before the meeting. She asked me if I might text her mom to see how she was feeling. . .and if she was going to youth group. I didn't have a chance between pickups and volleyball. So as the hour approached she nervously wavered whether or not she would go. Ultimately she did.
God met her there. She found a new community of peers with a similar belief system where she felt she belonged. The drama that had dragged her down earlier in the week was forgotten as she excitedly recounted what they had learned and talked about. She was bursting with energy and enthusiasm and I couldn't help but smile and feel my heart grow with appreciation for something that I've prayed about for a long time now. At twelve, my daughter is on the cusp of discovering who Jesus is to her. It is here that the foundation we've laid can deepen because of her own beliefs about who her God is. That is both exciting and terrifying to me!
She is growing up. The day after the meeting she accepted the girl's apology who had hurt her feelings. She forgave her. She marked her calendar for the next youth group date. And all I did was watch from the sidelines. She was figuring the hard stuff out on her own.
I realized it doesn't matter if you're 5, 12, 20, or 40. . .an invitation from someone you know to do some new thing or go to a new place is softened when it starts with an invite. My tween tried something new because just the thought of a familiar face comforted and intrigued her. She will go back because the group encouraged and asked her to. Invitations are always nice to receive and one never knows what treasures will result from accepting the invite. Who might you offer an invitation to today?