prayer from assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

(Francis of Assisi)

on being a female youth minister, part 3: the pool party

There’s this little event in youth ministry circles that’s lovingly referred to as “youth group pool party.” I assure you men came up with this idea, and that whoever started it, did not think long and hard about what this would mean for the women on their team. I don’t hold this against them, how could they know (unless they’ve worn a women’s bathing suit)?

A few years ago while I was doing an internship in NC, I got called up on stage to participate in a “team game” at a Jr. High conference. My partner was a 6th grade boy, Caleb, and the instructions were for the Jr. Higher to put his/her hands around their leader and feed them peanut butter and jelly. Think about the logistics of this for a moment. If you are thinking, “What on earth?” then you’re imagining what happened. A 6th-grade boy’s arms were around my back, trying to feed me a PB&J. If you aren’t feeling awkward yet, you probably should be in prison. I know men came up with that game, because there is no way any full-bodied woman would think that’s a clever idea. Because it’s not. It’s awkward, gross, and embarrassing.

I also know men came up with the idea of youth group pool parties, because anytime we have one at Chapel Rock I hardly ever swim. What’s that? Swimming in a skin-tight-one-piece makes me feel uncomfortable around hormone-enraged teenage boys? And there’s really not that big of a difference between my body and a 16-year-old girl’s body? Oh, you don’t say!

I love swimming, I love laying out, and I love pools. But the older I get, the less I enjoy being in a bathing suit, particularly around boys. I know their minds/bodies/hormones are changing, and let’s be real–NO swimming suit is modest. The very idea of a swimsuit is that it’s suctioned to your body and there is truly no escape, unless you wear a paper bag over your body, and even then, it’s sketchy.

So–to my male youth minister friends that have females on your team (hopefully you have at least a few!), when you’re planning your games, events, and parties… remember the women. Remember that if you ask one of them to lead a devo at your pool party, she will be standing there, half-naked, trying to convince your students that modest is truly hottest. The irony is just too great for words.