Years ago when I was in High School, I envied the girls who had a group to which they belonged. Most of them went to churches which had activities for teens like camps during the holidays.
When they spoke about them in unison, I felt like I was missing out on a significant part of growing up. Later on, they would confess that they declared a longer period of the camp to their parents so that they would have some extra days to indulge in different kinds of fun. It is such declarations that made me rethink my envy. If I tried those tricks, my nose would definitely elongate akin to Pinocchio’s.
Time went by and I realised that I did not need a group. A few meaningful relationships were more than enough. Instead of being with people who shared one common interest, I could have several and each of them could represent a different world.
Without noticing it, 4040 became a hub for my teenage desires interconnected with bonds that I had not even anticipated at the time. This enigmatic mix of different characters who may have a common goal but still stand tall as separate individuals with their fears, joys and everything in between.
For the past three years, we have had an ‘overnight’ as the year comes to an end. This night starts with music,games, ordinary (or not) conversations, food and culminates into different variations of prayer and sharing.
They have become more serious over time. You can literally evaluate growth when you are there. At least I find myself doing it sub consciously. Who was here last year and is no longer with us. Why? What does this mean to us? What did we pray for last time and how far have we come since? These and other questions go through my mind even as I laugh heartily at a joke or internally sob when a member describes a traumatic incident from their past year.
Over the weekend, as we sat around, making light of difficult moments and going silent when it mattered, I was reminded of how brittle we all are as human beings. I felt the crumbling of hearts as we stripped our souls, as if oblivious that there was an audience. Once again, I saw how easy it is to meet and talk to people almost every day and still have no idea what goes on in their lives when the curtains fall.
As we gave our testimonies and shared tales, there was this young man who happened to be in the house although he is not part of the team. I shall call him Eric. He sat in a corner with the largest of headsets and a laptop in front of him. From the onset, I could tell that he was neither listening to music nor watching a movie. Despite not making any eye contact with these strangers who were now in his abode, he quietly listened.
Time went by and we wondered when he would go to bed. Time check 4.30 a.m. I was in ‘my zone’ for several reasons. On an ordinary day, I would be struggling with the hunt for some shut eye alone while the whole world is asleep. This time, I had some of my favourite people in one room and we were all wake! Ha! All I could think was *must maximise this* I digress.
We called upon Eric to share his own pain and/or testimony. He declared that he’d been going through an experience similar to one that had been mentioned by one of our very own. Like with everyone else, we offered advice or support where we could. It was now almost 5 a.m and time to pray over everything. Most people were beyond sleepy at this point. Eric declared, he had forgotten how to pray. He had not done so for years.
I cannot say I know much about prayer. I am as bleak as the next guy. But. I feel that the spirit sat with us and in that moment, shone upon Eric. I thought, perhaps this entire night had happened because of him <God’s mysterious ways, you know>
As we huddled for the final prayer, I felt relief wash over me. There was no bright light, rather a whisper that one could easily miss, saying “It will be okay.”
So, yes, I found that ‘group’ but it wouldn’t be of any importance if it wasn’t valuable too.
The older we grow, the more difficult and weird it gets for ‘just friends’ to have a ‘sleepover.’ You might find that the only times this happens is in times of anguish, at a hospital, a vigil…
If you can create the environment before any of these, by all means do. Who was it that said people are generally more honest after midnight? *wink*
I honestly find that many people need to be aided in order to admit their ‘dark side.’ I mean if we sometimes find it difficult to share our achievements, imagine how we feel about that pain that resides deep inside? No matter how you do it, it is important that you make it easy for your loved ones to admit their brokenness. Be very deliberate about it.
Age has led me to become more intentional about my relationships. Who deserves my time, who doesn’t? Who needs it but won’t say? I teach myself to procrastinate less when it comes to my loved ones. The truth is, excuses will always be in plenty but meaningful relationships won’t.
As a parting shot, regarding our parents/guardians/elders, my approach is standard, give them all the time they request no matter how inconvenient, and then do it again and again…