My husband and I hang out with a select group of friends that we like to call the “Youth Group”. Select because we’ve chosen to be in community with them because we all like fun, fellowship, food, football (the four “f’s”), potato chips and onion dip, and we like to drink wine and various sundry beverages together. But the common thread is that we’ve all decided that at our age, we just want to say NO to drama, and yes to grace.
Youth Group because we all really think we’re ten years younger in our own minds and we want to hold on to just a thread of our youth. But these people are our homies…our peeps….our go-to people who would run to our aid in a flash if there were a tragedy or a need in our lives. We’ve prayed one another through huge life issues – from cancer, to bumpy marriages, to moving, to kid crisis’s, to weddings and to the birth of grand babies.
Ya know how life in your 20’s and 30’s and (yes) even for some in our 40’s was riddled with people who brought drama into it? And truthfully, we probably brought a certain amount of drama into the lives of those around us as well. But something happens as we grow up. We have an “ah ha” moment and we realize that drama accounts for way too much stress in our lives and we really can make the choice to stop doing and being around drama. It’s a life-changing concept. One that I hope you come to way sooner than I did.
The purging process started for me about 10 years ago when I realized that I was going to have to limit time that I spent with “dramatic” people in my life. Oh, not that I stopped having relationship altogether with those people…I just chose for my own sanity the when and where, but still trying to be available when needed. That’s the tricky part. My vocation requires me to step in and out of people’s lives who sometimes are in need. Great need. And there are times when I need to extend love and care to them and minister to those needs. In other words, step into their drama.
Henri Nouwen wrote a great narrative in his book The Inner Voice of Love entitled “Remain Anchored in Your Community”. The Youth Group is that for us. Our Community.
He says, “It is important to remain as much in touch as possible with those who know you, love you, and protect your vocation. If you visit people with great needs and deep struggles that you can easily recognize in your own heart, remain anchored in your home community….thus you can be very close to people in need of your healing without losing touch with those who protect your vocation. Your community can pull you back when its members see that you are forgetting why you were sent out. When you feel a burgeoning need for sympathy, support, affection, and care (“drama” – Kris insert) from those to whom you are being sent, remember that there is a place where you can receive those gifts in a safe and responsible way. Do not let yourself be seduced by the dark powers that imprison those you want to set free. Keep returning to those to whom you belong and who keep you in the light. It is that light that you desire to bring into the darkness. You do not need to fear anyone as long as you remain safely anchored in your community. Then you can carry the light far and wide.”
It’s my prayer that if you don’t have community that you seek it out. Whether in your neighborhood or your church or your bowling league or your book club or your Weight Watchers group – look for places to connect. People that can keep you in the light, and maybe even anchored.
So thanks to my community for keeping me protected. For keeping me in the light. For showing me grace by the bucketful. You know who you are. Youth Group. Anchored.