Last fall, I started a youth group at our little country church. I was excited and planned a bunch of fun and meaningful activities for the kids.
That first night, I stood under the white steeple, waiting and praying for the kids to show up. Only seven teens came; two of them were my own.
I was a little deflated. I questioned my abilities to lead a youth group, and I was thoroughly unimpressed with my recruitment abilities. Sometime that evening, I must have referred to myself as a hot mess, because the next day one of the teenage girls texted me. Here’s what she wrote:
Jennifer, You called yourself a hot mess last night. You’re not a hot mess! Thanks for trying this. More kids will come next time. And even if they don’t, we still had fun!
(In a subsequent text, she said something about our inaugural youth-group gathering being “lit,” which felt like a small victory.)
That teenager basically gave me the courage to keep showing up — if only for her and the six others.
The next youth group came, and sure enough, more came.
All year long, our group stayed fairly small. That’s not a huge surprise. We live in a small, sparsely populated farming community in northwest Iowa. Plus, many of the teenagers in our area already belonged to other youth groups.
As I reflect on our year together, there’s something about the whole thing that felt really right. Despite our size, we were able to accomplish a lot of good for the Lord. For instance, before Christmas, we shopped for gifts for a homeless family. One night, by moonlight outside the homeless shelter, we were able to deliver dozens of beautifully wrapped packages to that family. I couldn’t stop watching how our kids’ faces lit up with the joy of giving and serving to a family in need.
On another night, we made gallons of chili for the elderly and sick members of our congregation. We bowled. We ate pizza. We played silly games. And, of course, we deepened our faith together through study and prayer.
That’s the gift of showing up every time and not letting numbers determine if it’s working.
All of that has me thinking about any of you who are at the start of something you need to show up for:
A new job.
A new mission.
A new season in marriage.
Maybe you’re about to have your first child. Or maybe your last child is headed off to college soon, and you are about to enter your first season with an empty nest.
Maybe you’re starting your first week at the gym or giving Whole 30 a try for the first time ever.
Take a moment to fill in this blank: “It’s my first _____________, and I will show up for this! I am not a hot mess. I am brave for trying.”
Keep showing up. If you fall, get back up. Show up again tomorrow and the day after. As someone once said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
Let me say it loud for the people in the back: You are not a hot mess. You are brave for trying.
One of my favorite verses about trying again — and showing up again — comes from Galatians 6:9. The apostle Paul wrote these words: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Emphasis added.)
Don’t give up. God promises that you will reap a harvest.
Keep showing up. If you fall, get back up. Show up again tomorrow, and the day after. -@dukeslee: Click To Tweet