A month ago, I never could have imagined my life would change so much from being a youth leader. I have only done a handful of youth events, but every time I get closer to these kids and feel better about myself in the process.
Take yesterday’s overnight event, for example. It was a pretty emotional message and as the only female leader it was my job to talk with any girls who needed guidance. I was able to heavily impact one girl who has so much going on in her life. She spoke of tragedies and situations that make it hard to have faith in anything. She was angry at God. I connected with her on that and spoke briefly of my own experiences. I’ve always been nervous of praying for others but I was able to find the words she needed. Her outlook on life and God was different after because of me.
After talking with her, I also spoke with a few girls about friendships and other issues middle school girls tend to have. They all view me as a huge positive influence in their life. They don’t care if I’m not perfect. I have knowledge and love and compassion for them and I am always there to talk. When I told them these things they looked so grateful and it made me cry.
Struggling with an eating disorder makes it almost impossible to believe any part of you is good. I can’t remember a time when I thought positively about myself. In the few short weeks I’ve been helping with these groups, I feel useful. They need someone in their lives like me. I have a positive impact on them. I can help them. I am doing something so good. I have a purpose. I have a reason to recover.
In order for them to learn from me as much as I can, I want to share my story. Not the one that you see from the outside. But the truth that includes struggle and heartache as well as strength. I haven’t decided about telling the middle school about my eating disorder but I am absolutely certain I am sharing it with the high school girls. I talked with Kim (youth pastor’s wife) and she agrees. It’s a way for me to connect with them and help prevent even a few girls from having some of these issues I’ve dealt with. I also want to make them feel safe talking to me about any subject similar to that. I don’t want them to be alone like I was.
I really can’t stop smiling. I think this is going to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. I am lucky and blessed to be a youth leader. God is so good. He is going to use these things I’ve gone through to help others, I see it already.