So I did something this weekend that was a little crazy, a little risky, a little stressful...I volunteered with the youth. Right now I'm at the point where I know a number of the youth since they came through Sunday School, but that did not make volunteering with them any easier. I was reminded why I do children's ministry--for me it comes more naturally and just seems easier in some respects. I know that many youth pastors run screaming from ministry to kids...so i guess that's why we do what we do, we are just gifted in different ways. My weekend started out with a youth sleepover at the church. I arrived at 11 pm, thinking that we would be in bed by midnight. The youth were so ramped up and excited to be there that I quickly realized I would be kissing my precious sleep goodbye that night. I got put in the room with the jr. high girls (yes, many of you now know where I'm going with this) and I hadn't been in the room 5 minutes when one of the girls was crying because of the drama going on between her and her sister. We did finally get to bed at 1am, after a discussion about the "Twilight" book that one of the girls was reading before bed ("she's reading a bad book in the church" as the whole room was so kindly alerted to--I will blog about this later). I was awake before 7 and as the girls got up, I packed and discreetly went back home to shower before our trip to West Ed Mall. I had a great time shopping at the mall, and visiting with Tammy...and then I got to deal with more drama as I took 6 jr high girls shopping. You'll be happy to know I survived. Barely. Things started out a little rocky ("let's go shop at Aritzia"..."I'm not allowed to shop at that store, my mom doesn't like it") , but we finally decided to go to Lululemon (even though I knew full well that none of the girls could afford anything there). Of course on the way, we stopped in 5 other stores including Abercrombie & Fitch which the girls couldn't afford either. When we finally arrived at Lululemon the girls walked around inspecting everything. They even tried stuff on. I earn a steady paycheck and I've never tried anything on in that store because I just can't justify the price (although I did make a major purchase there of a $12 headband). One of the girls found a pair of pants to buy and lo and behold couldn't afford them. So she asks if I could lend her the money and her mom would pay me back. Uhhhhh.....no. You're 12, I'm pretty sure your mom doesn't want you to buy $80 workout pants. Anyway, I write all this because I had numerous lessons this weekend about what young girls will do to fit in, and how important it is to so many that they be seen doing or buying the right things to look good in front of their friends. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I was like that when I was their age. And then the painful self-reflection came...have I changed? What do I do now to fit in? Do I even care if I fit in? Unfortunately, I didn't really like some of my answers. It makes me so mad that it can be so easy, even as an adult to cave in and do/buy/be what advertising, friends, and our culture says we should do/buy/be. And now I'm left with the question of how I should change these patterns in my life and how not give in to societal ideals or portrayals of happiness. We all know they don't satisfy.