According to Bug, last week I went to Antarctica for a few days to tell people about God. I guess that explains why my children cried themselves to sleep the three nights I was gone.
What actually happened is that I went to Atlanta for a church leaders’ conference. I was asked to join my church staff and a few other people who are very involved with kids and youth, but are not on staff. I had a lovely time and learned a lot and was inspired to do some new things both at church and in my everyday life.
What was especially fun was the flashback to my teen years. This will surprise exactly none of you, but as a teen, I was a walk-the-line kind of girl. Sure, I had a rotten attitude with my parents, but otherwise I was a dream (zip it, Mom!)
I made straight A’s, I was in every club my school offered, my friends were all good kids and all of my activities were school or church related. The first time I found myself at a party with alcohol (it really was a surprise to me), I took one sip of a wine cooler, then freaked out for the following six months about how many different ways my mom was going to kill me. I didn’t drink, smoke, sneak around with boys or skip school.
Every year from seventh grade through twelfth, I attended at least one youth conference with my church. We rode on church buses, ate at McDonald’s and were generally loud and obnoxious everywhere we went. We got little sleep and fought to stay awake during the morning conference sessions. We bought Jesus tee shirts and giggled with our friends and met kids from other churches.
So fast-forward 20-something years, and it’s pretty much the same. Sure the production value is much better, and instead of passing notes during the main session, we texted each other. But overall, it was like going back in time.
I rode in the back of a 15-passenger van and you know what? That is a lot worse than I remember it being when I was 16. I am so thankful that we did not eat at McDonald’s, but we did stop there for a bathroom break. Our group had an ongoing battle between #teamcat and #teamwrong, so meme sharing and meowing song lyrics was a pretty common occurrence.
We shared hotel rooms and had to kick each other out of bed in the mornings, and shared lunch with folks we had just met. We are a little bit older than the official “youth group” but we still acted a whole lot like one. I’m not aware of any pranks, so maybe we have outgrown that staple of teen conference trips. And half of our group stopped at IKEA on the way, so I’m pretty sure our teen selves would recognize our lameness based on that (but have you seen that place? It’s amazing!)
My absolute favorite part (other than learning about Jesus, duh) was when we ate at a Mexican restaurant and the mariachi band serenaded us with “Beat It” and the guitar player did the moonwalk while we danced around our table. Pretty sure we were supposed to stay seated and enjoy the music.
For any of you who grew up in the church culture, I highly recommend finding a youth or conference trip to tag along for. You can relive your good-girl glory days of traveling with a huge group of loud people. I promise you will either feel young or very, very old. Probably both.
Overheard at the salon: “Every man should experience being an old woman once in his life.”
Julie Holt is a wife, mother of three, hair stylist, runner, reader, writer, and is tired. Very tired. She works in Brentwood, lives in Spring Hill and can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow Julie on Twitter @jh_lighter_side.