This weekend was the Nashville Young Life Leadership weekend retreat. All of the leaders from around Tennessee came together for a restful time of learning and fellowship together, or time with friends.

This semester, my goal is sticktuitiveness (if that is even a word), or to be fully committed to every little thing that I am involved in. It is decision making time in the Church that I will attend and the people whom I plan to invest in.

This means saying no to things that I like in order to say yes to those that I love.

It means saying no to the Church where some of my friends go and instead following where God is calling me to, and chasing after His grace. As I become closer to Jesus, the more I grow in boldness and in sharing my faith and what I have learned about Jesus because it helps others, too, with gentleness and a humble heart.

This weekend, there were two clubs and many sweet moments with friends old and new, to get to know more friends in love with Jesus. I love that we call the kids our friends, because Jesus calls us His friends, too, and I want to invite kids into that friendship with Jesus (John 15:15).

There is something truly special about the way that Young Life shares Jesus; I remember experiencing that for the first time last year when I went to my first club, and being captivated by the stories of a God who came close to to be with me.

This might seem like a simple statement, but to me it means everything. This past week, the word used most often to describe me has been a hot mess, and that is most absolutely true of me. My deepset fear of disappointing people runs rampant in frazzled and bubbly bursts of inattention and thoughts running wild in my head. Yet the Lord says to me, there is grace, sweet mercy. May we simply rest in the loving embrace and steadiness of His grace.

Another thing that has happened throughout this semester has been the unexpected presence of a boy I had prayed for and loved throughout last semester. The most difficult thing about this semester thus far is how much I have cared for him and how much my emotions have been caught on a spinning loop. Oh how I long to let go of my feelings for him, yet he continues to be there in every place I seem to find myself. There are no coincidences, and therefore though I cannot understand this boy who makes my heart spin out of control, I can trust that God has a plan even for this, too.

To love is to be vulnerable. Instead of hardening my heart towards him, may I continue to love him well even when it hurts and tears flow from my eyes from the burden and hurt of unrequited, unreciprocated love.

As I enter this time of becoming a WyldLife leader for middle schoolers, my mind flashes back to my own time in middle school. Oh how I wish someone had been there for me, too. In the beginning of my first semester, a little reminder of middle school re-entered my life and filled me with fear and hurt from the past. But this summer, working with middle schoolers was such a joy, despite when they didn’t always love me back, God loved them through me just as He loves me no matter my response. And just like my dearest roommate and I talked about last year, I am very excited for God to, I pray, use WyldLife to help me redeem my past of middle school and see how He must have been using that time of loneliness for good, if even just to help another kid not to have to go through that time without a friend.

As I journey back to middle school and the hurt of unrequited love, may it encourage you that you are not on your own and God is using your hurts for good. He used my loneliness to give me a tender heart for middle schoolers, the very time in my life when I first accepted Jesus Christ into my heart during summer camp. He is using unrequited love for a purpose that I do not yet fully understand, but through which I trust His heart of love, if even just to show me how much He loves me even when I do not return His love. His love never changes and His heart never hardens towards me when I don’t love Him back, He continues to love through the hurt of unrequited love, and so very much may I too towards this boy, my middle schoolers, and all whom I encounter.

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