When I was first asked to be a BYN leader, I was extremely hesitant to commit. I’ve always thought that “mom” being around on a Youth night was more of a negative than a positive. My kids need that time by themselves and I need my time. I can get errands done – no kids, no stress, no worries!
All three of our children have been open with us, as parents, but at the end of this summer, one of our kids went through a very difficult time. It didn’t last long, but the changes were so significant that I was extremely concerned.
They were isolated – no communication, no activities, no energy, no appetite – and by all appearances seemed to be going in a different direction very fast. The child who used to be around me constantly wanted nothing to do with me. The child who talked to me all the time didn’t say a word and the child that seemed content was now extremely angry and sad. I was desperate for them to come out of this.
I asked a few of my friends from CR and some BYN Youth leaders to pray for us. After about a week, I started seeing the child I knew again.
As I reflected on this, God started showing me problems with my attitude. I would get so annoyed driving my kids to different activities. I would be tired of being the “taxi.” It was a bother and interfered with “my” day. I wouldn’t look at these times as opportunities to bond, but rather as a hassle and inconvenience.
However, this one difficult time with my teen child caused me to be extremely thankful and start to look at things differently.
When we would be in the van, I would welcome conversation for those five to ten minutes. When we watched TV or movies together, I would be thankful my kids were right beside me. And when I said “yes” to serving at BYN, I was overwhelmed by the positive response I received. They actually seemed a little excited I was going to start coming. I’m connecting with my kids in little ways and in big ways. We discuss some of the small group topics on our drive home. I would have never guessed me volunteering would have made such a huge impact on my family.
And, my fear and selfishness almost kept me from experiencing this.
I now understand my kids see that I am more invested in what they are doing. It seems when I became more invested, they became more invested. I’m taking time to listen instead of lecture; to be present in the moment and not worry about things that don’t really matter. The teen years can be extremely difficult, but as their parent, I need to be the example of how important our relationship is with God. I used to say church was important in our family, but I didn’t make Youth a priority.
When asked to write this, I did NOT want to do this. I didn’t want it to come across like we have it all together as a family. We still have huge struggles and arguments, and get on each other’s nerves. But now, the windows of opportunity are more open. The attitudes are more positive than negative. There’s more laughter than yelling. There’s more conversation instead of silence. The focus has changed.
BYN has been a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and it is a blessing we can serve and attend together.
– Jatana Beecroft, Parent and BYN Volunteer