Lessons (Re)Learned

• Abigail Youmans • September 15, 2020

I’m tired. Straight up exhausted all the time. Sometimes I have no clue why, so the blame is pinned on the state of the world. And honestly, it’s a realistic culprit. Headlines are everyday more shocking, disturbing, and confusing, comment sections are riddled with hateful nonsense, and in the words of Schmidt from New Girl, “movies are pretty much all sequels nowadays.” It’s exhausting!

Because of this seemingly eternal exhaustion, I’ve lacked the drive to do anything that I actually like to do with my time. I have not read or written for pleasure, sitting down at the piano is becoming more of a rarity, handlettering even more so, and the lens cap on my camera might be permanently glued to the lens. Creativity and productivity are at low levels, and procrastination has been at an all-time high.

This blog post is the second I’ve written since this project began, and guess what? It should probably be my fourth. I was so honored to be included in the incredible team of writers we’ve had on the blog, sharing words that God deposits into obedient and vulnerable hearts. “Yes! Finally an outlet! God use me, speak to me, that I might share your word and heart,” I prayed. The excitement was real.

As each month has rolled around and right on by (at alarmingly high rates of speed I might add – how is it September?!), words couldn’t make it from my head to heavy and 2020-worn heart. I would send “I’m sorry” texts to wonderful coordinator Jacqui, explaining that I just don’t have anything worthy of sharing right now. She’s understood every time, letting me know that it’s okay and that we’ll make the schedule work.

One blog post in particular was going to be about ELM YTH’s class of 2020, which I’m writing about now.

In late June, Scott and I had the seniors over to our home, ate some great pizza, laughed a lot, and had great discussion about what their school careers were like, what they’ve learned about themselves in the process and how the Lord moved in their lives.

Despite having to stay at home and finish school in quarantine, missing out on sports and friends, they looked at it like a blessing in disguise. Their schedules flipped, routines were readjusted and they had to focus their time on their own, preparing them for the road ahead.

“It helps you reset for the next phase of life,” one said. “The next time I go to school, it’ll be college.” They all have looked ahead to where they’re going, taking where they’ve been and letting that shape them into who they are now.

Each senior had a great bit of wisdom to share about what they’ve learned over the years:

Keep your priorities straight. “Don’t take hard work for granted,” Bella said. “Study hard.”

– Don’t sweat the small things. “A lot of the time there are small things that happen that feel really big,” Zach said. “But when you get a week or two outside of that thing, it just doesn’t matter anymore.”

Just be yourself. “Going through high school is hard, being yourself is hard,” Kylee said. “Don’t let whatever’s going on get to you.”

Find out who your real friends are. “There’s a lot of people that will just kind of ‘be there,’ because it’s convenient for them,” Zech said. “And if you find out that somebody’s not real, it’s not your fault.”

Just have fun. “Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes, just learn from them and grow from them,” Hudson said. “And have fun, make good memories with your friends as long as you can have freedom to have fun, ‘cause when it’s over you have to be responsible – just enjoy your time.”

Scott asked the group what the biggest thing God had done in their lives this year, or what they’ve learned about their faith.

For one student, the Lord removed people from their life that didn’t need to be there. “He gave me a lot of time to myself to really invest in my relationship with God individually – to form it for myself, not as a friend group or a youth group.”

Another student agreed, that they learned it’s important to form faith for yourself. “The most important time in my faith is when I had a month without my phone and I was just reading the Bible everyday,” they said. “Getting to know the Lord on a personal level instead of thinking, ‘Okay, what does everybody else do, how does everyone else pray,’ and thinking ‘What am I going to do, how am I going to pray.’ Once you figure that out for yourself it’s a good way to develop your faith.”

In another’s life He opened doors and taught them guidance and listening, saying that they wouldn’t even be able to go to their chosen college if it wasn’t for Him.

“God doesn’t speak to everyone in conventional ways,” another said they’ve learned. “If it’s a different way than normal – if you don’t see visions or get words – there is a way: it might just not be ‘normal.’”

The students unanimously agreed, saying, “That’s good,” and “So true.”

The statement and agreements struck me. Visions and prophetic words were these kids’ normal. I remember being in high school and feeling kind of iffy about things like that, not entirely sure how the Holy Spirit moves. After an encounter with the Holy Spirit, where the Lord saw me where I was and poured His love out on me, my “normal” was rebirthed. It raised the level of expectation in my life, creating a new hunger for Him and an eagerness to receive whatever He had.

That night in my living room, and looking back now, how amazing is it that this is already our young peoples’ normal? They’ve seen the Lord’s faithfulness and movement in their lives in mighty ways, ways that will only be exceeded in their futures.

Paul writes to the church at Philippi, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil.1:6). Later, in verses 9 through 11, he says, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11).

This verse was brought to my mind as I reflected upon this day. The want to know Him and be known by him, and use the giftings he’s given us only grows as we spend more time in His presence. You may have been tired and weary like me, and my prayer for you is that you can find the rest you need to carry on.

Another thing Zech shared about investment that night has struck me again recently: “If I like something and don’t invest in it, whether it be time, or money,” he said, “I’m not going to care about it as much.” That’s why I haven’t had the motivation for things – I really haven’t even tried.

Whenever I’ve felt drained or lacked drive, my mom has said, “You have no energy because you expel no energy.” She’s right of course. Every time I sit down at my piano and play my heart out, or read my Bible, I think, “Oh yeah – I love this!” And those simple moments give me the strength to press on. Even as I write this, I’m reminded that the Lord is meeting me where I am, renewing my energy, and bringing me back to my calling as His child.