This week I spoke to youth about poverty.
Even though I have spoken to thousands of people in varying group sizes, I felt nervous going in. I tried to sort out the contributors to my angst.
I know that I'm not a youth speaker so I questioned if I'd be dynamic enough. Am I in touch with what matters to a 15 year-old? Or, was it no more complicated than crowd control? Could I keep the attention of this generation and engage them in meaningful discussion.
To be honest, they kind of scare me.
And then I went and entered in. We did an exercise on perspective and I had them wear some funky glasses with red, green or blue lenses to illustrate how our worldviews color our understanding. They were willing participants and we had enough discussion.
In the end, the youth pastor said she thought it had gone well. I don't have a lot of similar experiences to compare with so I accepted her assessment. I will leave the outcomes of the kids' learning up to God.
My takeaway from the evening is a reminder that so often discomfort and fear about a group of people stems from lack of relationship. Seeing familiar faces in the crowd personalized my audience. Genuine questions asked and answered gave opportunity to exchange ideas, opinions and thoughts.
Face-to-face interaction can break down stereotypes and build bridges of commonality.
It's unlikely that I will quit my day job and take up youth work. However, I am thankful for the challenge this event provided me to have conversations, step out of my comfort zone, and make an effort to know the story of one who seems so different from me. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren't.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst