A Lesson Learned...
Middle Schooler's Fall Retreat
If I learned anything from this retreat, it’s that teachable moments come at a cost. I’ve always been a little scared of heights, especially falling from them, so the idea of going on a “Giant Swing” wasn’t the most appealing thing in the world to me. After watching a couple of fearless middle school students drop from 40 feet in the air, I decided I’d probably go ahead and sit this one out. But then I noticed Adam.
Adam is a 6th grader and this was his first time on a UMA fall retreat. Like me, he’s a little nervous with heights but had worked up the courage to go down the zip line earlier in the day. I sat down next to Adam and asked him if he thought he’d like to give the swing a try. He was hesitant, and I didn’t blame him. Wanting to do my best to encourage him to face his fears, we started talking about trust. “You have to put your trust in lots of things everyday” I told him. “Probably more things than you even realize”. “For example, who did you trust to drive us here safely?” “What did you have to trust on the zip line?”
After talking about trust for a while, I explained that this was also how it often is in our relationship with God. Just as we must trust the harness, the person who hooked us up, and the swing itself, we also have to trust God with things that are out of our control. Regardless of whether you clutch your hands to the rope as tightly as possible or put them in the air and scream, you’re not in control anymore.
After we were done talking, my first thought was “that was a pretty good analogy.” My next thought was, “Oh no--now I’m going to have to go on the swing!” Not wanting to seem hypocritical and also realizing that I might have partly been talking to me all that time too (I really don’t like heights), I got strapped in and went on the giant swing. As a leader, it’s easy to go on a retreat with the mentality that you’ll simply be teaching the kids, but sometimes God reminds me that I still have a lot to learn myself, and one of those things is learning to trust Him with things that I can’t control. I still don’t like heights though.