Saying Good-Bye: A Tribute to the Youth Group

Saying good-bye has never been something I’m good at. I hate that inward tug-n-pull ache when you wrap your arms around a person, squeeze them one last time and let them go.

Especially when there’s a million things you want to say and only so much time, and how do you encapsulate the important things in a short sentence or a mere paragraph? How do you walk away and feel satisfied that your time with them left a life-giving, eternalizing impression?

The Shalom and Meadville Church youth group = the annual Christmas/New Years white elephant gift exchange….

a bus trip to Ohio, visiting Behalt Heritage Center and Warther’s Museum….

camp-outs, in all types of weather…the kinship of campfire prayer time, setting up in the dark and toilet paper races (among other things)…

many Tuesday nights, teaching Kids’ Club…watching some amazing young people at work for the Kingdom of God (always inspiring and energizing)…

hiking with umbrellas… and so much more.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does it mean if your picture only captures one-fourth of a moment, one mere second of a memory, a fleeting snapshot of recollection? What if there aren’t any pictures to capture your quickening heartbeat when you think about “leaving”? And how do you say good-bye, when no words express and no adjectives contain how blessed you have been, how inspired you have been, how frustrated you have been, how delighted you have been…to have experienced sponsoring a group of youth so wonderful?

In one short month, it becomes official, and we leave our place as your youth sponsors. But can I just say, that you won’t leave your place in our hearts?

And To My Girls ~ May you face everyday, courageously, daring to risk losing everything to gain the One True Thing. I am so proud of you. May your steps be light, even when your heart is burdened, knowing that you have been redeemed. I rejoice with you. May you walk in the knowledge of our Savior – may He be your First Love; may your heart quicken to spend time with Him. I cheer for you.

I have hosted you in my home and you have been “my girls”. We’ve talked about the hot topics in our lives and we’ve prayed and we’ve cried together and asked hard questions, and I just wanted to say: thank-you. We’ve laughed ourselves silly and made stupid, pointless home videos and gobbled ice cream sundaes like guys, and I just wanted to say: thank-you.

And I said I’m not good at good-byes, so you will just have to give me grace. I just don’t know how to capture how grateful and honored I have been to be your friend. I am always here – please don’t stop calling me at all hours of the day or night. Let’s keep walking together!



One thought on “Saying Good-Bye: A Tribute to the Youth Group

  1. Renee, there’s a saying “when God closes a door he opens another one.” I know at this time that’s very little consolation. I’m sorry for the hurt you feel. I feel your pain and cry with you. You and Ryan have invested more than time in the youth group. You have inspired much and done a great deal to make the youth group more focused on the Lord and I want to commend you for all that that has taken. As you move to the next thing the Lord has for you I trust you will rejoice even in this hard thing. God is faithful and he will be with you catching your tears in his bottle. Right now we see darkly through a clouded glass but some day all will be made clear. I love you sister!

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