Tuesday, February 21, 2006

take me as i am

Darren and I are small group leaders at the Fortress Youth Development Center on Sunday afternoons. We participate in a high-energy praise and worship time with the kids, then break into small groups to discuss biblical principles on a teenaged, inner-city level. Before breaking into groups, one of the youth ministers always leads us in a big group activity.

Last Sunday, he told the leaders to come forward and sit in the chairs. Then he gave our small groups a pile of STUFF: hair gel, blue eye shadows, red and hot pink lipsticks... and told them to give us all an extreme makeover, and that the team with the best made-over leader would win a prize. You should've heard the squeals of delight when the kids heard that. They attacked us with much zeal and gusto, and this was the end result:

Personally, I think the Darth Maul-look that Jake's team gave HIM should've won, but the judges gave the prize to Darren's team.
It took 2 shampoos to get all the slimy gel out of my hair. You can't tell from the picture, but there were two huge GOBS of it plastered on the back of my head. Naaaaaasty. Darren, Jake and Boy George Michael were good sports and kept their makeup on for the full hour, but they all three hit the bathroom and scrubbed with cold water and paper towels the very second it was over. Crack. Me. UP! The purpose of it all was to open up this topic: does God accept you as you are? Does He want you to be all made up and with your best face on when you come before Him? Will He acknowledge you if you look like Darth Maul on the outside? What if you look good on the outside, but you're skanky on the inside? Does He care? Will He reject you?
What things do you try to "make over" when you remember to acknowledge God? What things to do you try to hide?

It opened up a very frank talk with my 4 girls. They're wise in so many ways. I mean, they're STREETwise, that's certain. They've seen more ugliness and shame and downright filthy sin in their lives than I have in twice the amount of time -the kind of stuff that just comes with the territory when you live in the projects.

But they're also SOULwise. They realize that God accepts them as they are. They understand that He doesn't expect perfection, and that He welcomes them with open arms, no matter how tattered and torn and dirty they are. He just wants them to come. They understand that it's THEM God values, not their good deeds or their extreme makeovers. He may not like the baggage they're dragging, he may abhor the sinfulness they're wallowing in, but let me tell you: these girls understand that DESPITE it ALL, they serve a God who accepts and loves them just the way they are, and wants the very best for them today, tomorrow, and for all eternity. They GET it. THAT makes my heart soar.


Melissa in AUS said...

what a heartwarming entry, Stacy *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Wow. You and Darren inspire me. The whole entry inspires me. I love you Stace.

Cara said...

Okay, you made me cry. I love OUR kids! They rock!
I do need to make one correction though. Boy George, I mean my handsome husband Michael, drove the van route home like that and then came and scrubbed his face. I was shocked and I am sure the parents were too!! ;)

Mom Nancy said...

That's wonderful! I am the mother of a teenage daughter who doesn't worry about her appearance that much, for which I'm grateful, but lately I've been worried about her. She's failing science and her father is a physicist (with a PhD, no less) so she's been feeling really down on herself. Last night I prayed that God would open her heart to understand her worth in His eyes and to know that whether she fails science or not, her parents love her and she isn't condemned to being lost her whole life.

I'm glad there are strong youth leaders out there. Good job!

Anonymous said...

I just have to say . . . even though I washed my face as soon as the kids left my skin still felt sunburt for two days after that. I don't know if I had a reaction to the makeup or what . . . I guess I'm just not used to having that stuff all over my face. ;-)


Annie said...

What a wonderful lesson.

Now, I want to know, did you go to Sonic looking like that?

Pamela Lynn ~ flutterby7 said...

What an awesome way to open to that lesson/discussion? And how cool that they get it! Can I share the story with a friend who is a local youth pastor?