As promised a few posts ago in A Conventional Weekend, here are some more thoughts that have popped up since attending the National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville.
What communities do you have in your life? Any types, think big or small. Some possibilities are your workplace, your church, school, friends, family, Bible study, aerobics class, motorcycle buddies, book club, crafting buddies, etc. etc. There are different communities in every person's life.
But what brings these communities together? For some, like work and school, it is required and you don't really have a choice but to attend and be a part of that group. Even in these that are mandatory, each community like those listed above is united in some kind of common purpose, goal, attitude or understanding. Educate, learn, worship, lose weight, create things, drag pegs around tight corners... You fill in the blank for the communities you thought of.
At the convention, it was SO cool to be surrounded by a new community in the common purpose of youth ministry. Paid youth ministers, youth volunteers, some teachers, some juvi workers. I am not good at judging numbers of people but attendance was in the thousands. Here's a photo from our seats in Big Room on day 2. I took this picture more because the tech pit was intriguing (and I'm afraid we spent a decent amount of the time trying to figure out which person down there was switching the video feeds) but it also shows that there were a lot of people there. This is just the floor of the arena and up one side a bit. The first level was mostly full on all three sides of the stage.
FYI, Big Room is where everyone at the convention is together in the arena for worship, speakers and announcements. (Announcements, announcements, annooooouuuuncements... sorry, thanks to Trent attending camps and bringing the jingles home, that song pops into my head now whenever I hear that word. Ugh.) I digress. In Big Room each time, I would just look around me in amazement at how many people were there with the same purpose and mission: to love kids. I didn't know anybody except Trent, Sonny and David Crowder (ok, I don't know him but I did sit next to him at a movie a few months ago). Oh, and a girl who came up to us when Trent and I accidentally but cutely wore Baylor shirts on the same day and said "I had to come meet the Bears, I just graduated from Truett seminary." So I didn't know any of the other several thousand people, but really enjoyed worshiping and learning with them. I reeeeeeeally enjoyed worshiping with them, but more on that in another post.
Ok, so you have lots of communities in your life and it's really cool to be a part of them, some more than others, some bigger than others. Here's another question. Where/when in your life is your community of choice just yourself, or yourself and God? I say choice because moments like these are so hard to come by these days. Life is crazy for most people. Weeks are a marathon from Sunday to Saturday, filled with days that are a sprint from morning till night. Where in all that can you just chill without any particular community??
On Day 3 of the convention, during the 4:00 seminar block, I didn't find any of the available seminars particularly relatable to me, plus I was getting a bit worn out, mostly mentally. I had gotten a whole lot of information in the past three days and just needed to chill. As my facebook status said at the time: "Skipping this seminar block to process and journal. Lots of thoughts." So I found an empty bench and did just that:
It was my little spot for an hour and a half to be in my own bubble, just me, my journal, my Bible and a granola bar. After writing for a while I put my stuff back in my backpack and laid down on the bench to snooze for a bit. When Sonny and Trent were done with their seminars, I was ready to rock and roll again. I went from "oh my gosh, so much info, so many thoughts, not much energy" to "alrighty, what's next?" Our friend Justin has been to these conventions in the past and knows how they go. He commented on my facebook status that I mentioned above and said "You made it this far before hitting the saturation point. Not bad."
Saturation point. What does that look like? In this instance, it was the point of lots of info being tossed at me in a short amount of time. But it could be lots of other things too. Too much going on, too many commitments, trying too hard to please everyone. You name it. In chemistry, the saturation point is where you can no longer dissolve anymore of something, let's say sugar, into something else, like water. This point varies by temperature and volume but let's not get way technical in this analogy. (I kind of loved/rocked chemistry in highschool and college, so sue me) Once you reach the saturation point, what happens to the rest of the sugar? It's just floating around in the water, useless, unable to be absorbed. So wouldn't it be best for us to just never get to that saturation point?? If it means some part of us ends up floating around, useless, wouldn't it be better if we take time out of our commuity filled lives to have community with self and God? To slow down, process, renew.
Journal, read, pray, think, snooze, eat a granola bar...