SURVIVING CHURCH YOUTH GROUP IN THE 90'S
So my freshman year of High School I started hanging out with this girl who was a lot different than my middle school friends. She smoked, drank alcohol, you get the idea right?
I can't remember how, but she ended up taking me to of all things these weekly youth group "meetings" at what was probably her Mom's church. The whole thing was weird for me. I'd grown up in a really traditional church with the old hymns... not too exciting. This was wild. They turned the lights off and had a band playing all this modern music and the kids were SO into it. Putting their hands up in the air and getting all emotional. I didn't really know WHAT to think- I hadn't been around that kind of worship in my life.
Anyway, this youth group ends up hosting a ski weekend away and we signed up. I'm sure mostly just to get out of town and go snowboarding more than anything. It's not like we were all that interested in all the preaching that would happen- I don't think it even occurred to us to care about that aspect to be honest.
What I remember of the "talks" several different speakers/pastors gave was that a lot of it didn't resonate, or seemed off. But I didn't care that much. I'm like 16 after all and just happy to be away from home and rules.
Cut to, one of these "pastors" or whatever he was, decides to pull me and my friend to the front of one of these talks. Picture about 100 or so kids from around the state.
We did stick out like a sore thumb, I had bright pink hair and she probably had some shade of purple or something. We used our clothing to express ourselves, think big baggy pants and chain wallets (we thought we were soo cool). In the 90's this was a big deal. It told the world we were DIFFERENT in a major way. And generally not in a good way to most "normal" people. Not that we cared.
So the guy decides that since we look so weird we need to be prayed over.
In front of everyone- like a group freaking exorcism or something.
Two girls who are voluntarily at this youth group event.
Needless to say this was my last adventure with that organization.
What's wild to me is that these adults couldn't recognize that yes, clearly we wanted attention, we were looking to be seen. We didn't have the best emotional support at home and needed guidance for sure.
I would've LOVED to have an adult actually reach out and try and get to know ME. Ask me how I'm doing, what I was struggling with, let me know I had a soft place to land that wasn't just myself.
But no- these people decided the best thing to do was act like we were sinners or failing at life- who knows WHAT they were thinking. And their solution was to pray over us as if we weren't standing right there with feelings and emotions.
I saw a video last night with this young guy who goes up to strangers randomly and asks to pray over them and convert them to Jesus. He seems to target people who look a little "different." One girl mentioned she had experienced anxiety and depression and he told her Jesus could make that disappear forever (YIKES... Side note: Connection to a Higher Power = awesome. Spiritual Bypassing and acting like you can avoid human emotions or that our body's cues should be ignored or denied if they feel "negative" = dangerous and irresponsible). It put me right back in that room with everyone staring at us- praying away our weirdness and humanity.
Prayer is good. Caring about people is good. But for the love of all things holy, what a reminder to just try and see people. Show love and compassion and not try and force your beliefs on anyone.
From what I've witnessed working with my clients- they have the best wisdom for them INSIDE. It's not coming from me or anyone else. Sometimes they just need a little help learning to hear it.