Thursday, September 4, 2014

We Called it "Black Thursday"

I have mentioned several times on this blog that taking week long trips with youth is in many ways like a miniature version of MTV's The Real World. Living together for a week or so presents many challenges. If you have ever watched the show, you know that at some point many of the relationships start to unravel and fall apart. Youth trips are no different.

You see, it doesn't matter how much you love each other or love Jesus, a week of someone never picking up their dirty underwear, leaving wet swim suits on your bed or not flushing the toilet can start to wear on you. The anger inside you starts to build, but you hold it in. Then, suddenly, and usually completely unexpected by the person in question, you lose it. You throw the wet suit at them; their dirty underwear ends up in the ocean; or you just start screaming. On our trips, we could usually predict about when these things would happen. We called it Black Thursday.

As a youth pastor I could always see the storm clouds gathering, I just didn't know where the lightning would strike! I learned, however, that there was always one place to look first- middle school girls. Many a Black Thursday (and to be honest, pretty much every youth group drama!) began because a room full of 12-14 year old girls just couldn't take each other anymore. It might be one of the things I listed above; more often, it was all about one of two issues. Either one girl was jealous that two of the girls were spending more time with each other than with her, or it was about a boy. Someone had a crush on a boy, but the boy liked someone else in the room, or another of the girls had been flirting with him- it could be any number of things. But it usually led to screaming, yelling, name calling and the occasional punch. It was never pretty.

As the years went by, I began to plan for Black Thursday. We would talk about it all week. Our Wednesday devotions would be about avoiding it. One year I even staged a fight between two high school guys (that story is told here) to help relieve the tension. But still- Black Thursday almost always came.

The point today is this; youth groups (and churches) are full of humans. None of us are perfect, and our flaws often stand out for all to see when placed in a situation where we are living life together as Acts 2:42 suggests we do. A great life lesson was learned on those trips if any of our students began to understand what it means to offer grace and forgiveness to someone who, quite frankly, you just can't stand at the moment. Remember, Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who wish evil on you. My guess is he said that on a Thursday...

Because of Jesus,

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