As a mother of two teenagers, I didn’t do that well. My kids would probably say that was putting it mildly! 🙂 But, as “they” say, I did my best. It appears that, in my family at least, each generation does better than the previous. My kids are just doing awesome jobs as parents! Anyway, I do remember continually praying during those times when I came across as the “wicked witch of the west”, that there would be some grown-up Christian influence in their lives who would be there for them, that they could trust, through whom they would feel loved and accepted. I didn’t know until recently where that idea came from. But I knew it was right.
God was kind. He answered that continual prayer graciously and my kids were protected. Both kids had teachers throughout their lives who they bonded with that were believers. There was not preaching and teaching from them, just kindness, acceptance and good moral examples. My kids chose extra-curricular school activities which “happened” to be sponsored by Christian teachers in a public school.
At our church during those teenage years, our Youth Group was going through a struggle and both kids found solace elsewhere. One connected with Young Life while the other with K-Life. Their leaders became friends for life and were a constant “safe” place for both to air whatever they needed to. These were not my choices. I was raised to believe that one should not support para-church activities, only those in our immediate church. Fortunately God and good friends intervened to change my attitude.
I recently connected with that person in my own life who was my “safe” place during my teenage years. He was my youth pastor, coming to my church right from seminary. At first George was in charge of the children and the youth. I remember having the best Vacation Bible School program anywhere! The excitement and the singing and the contests and the Bible memory were so fun! He eventually went to being specifically the youth pastor at the same time I passed into the youth program. George was a delight! He was a blessing! He was a laid-back kind of a guy who was a good teacher, mentor and friend to all. I spent much time with him going on and on about my awful parents and life. He was certainly patient! George was that grown-up Christian influence in my life who was there for me, that I could trust, through whom I felt loved and accepted. He left to become Senior Pastor of a church in Connecticut – far, far away – as I entered my senior year of high school. I was heart-broken. I even applied to colleges in Connecticut. Although that didn’t work out, we did stay in touch.
Years later, when I had moved away, he returned to my home church as Senior Pastor. So he became my parents’ pastor. When I would visit the parents, I would visit George.
The last time I saw him was at my dad’s memorial service. That was twenty-one years ago! After my dad passed and my mother moved, I had no reason to be in the vicinity.
On a recent trip, we were going to pass by the town in Florida where George and his wife had retired. I had a phone number and an address. Both apparently were wrong! But Hubby and I persevered! And with limited information and probably an hour of searching, I was knocking on his door! We didn’t recognize each other but I had the advantage. Appearances changed for us but our bond was still there. We had the most delightful impromptu visit – the four of us.
I’m glad I could go back in time and let him know how much he had meant to me. I’m glad to reconnect and look forward to more catching up! I’m glad Hubby could meet him and his wife and learn first-hand about that tumultuous part of my life. Flashing back can be a good thing! This was great!