Hello! I’m back from my longest blog hiatus yet (2 weeks) after being highly busy with YEPAW – prepping it, the week itself, and recovering from it. What is YEPAW you may ask? I’ll talk about that in a minute for those unaware. I also aged this month…a couple days ago. And yes, I hit a milestone once again that symbolized how far I’ve come recently. Let me explain.
YEPAW stands for Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop, and it’s a 25-year-old youth ministry started to prove that today’s youth are not a hopeless generation. What began as a youth gospel choir of a handful of teens in a church over time emerged & branched out into a large program during which for one week, a few hundred teens attend to take classes in the arts (voice, drumline, step, mime, drama, sign language, dance, etc.), learn 10 songs as a mass choir, stay in dorms with counselors, listen to speakers, and encounter several things geared towards learning about being excellent in their lifestyles through the arts and through Jesus. At the end of the week, we put on a big closing concert for the community to showcase the songs, class presentations, and everything that we’ve been instilled with, along with the charge to take it to apply towards out lived & walk with God. Many people have had their lives transformed by YEPAW, myself included. Many have given their lives to God at YEPAW, and/or made friendships & connections with people whom remain in their lives for a lifetime. (It’s really hard to “describe” this program & its’ impact…it truly is something you just have to SEE in action.)
ANYWAY! Last week was YEPAW week, and as exhausting of an experience as it usually is (it’s called ‘WORKshop’ for a reason!), it’s always extremely rewarding to watch so many kids start to make positive transformations. Of course you have the ones who are tougher to deal with (defying rules, talking out of place, etc.) but in the end, it’s worth it every year even if only one kid were to turn their life towards Jesus. However, they’re not the only ones who reap spiritual benefits. I had a good few moments during the week – reflective moments when God’s spirit really just surrounded the place – when everyone was deep, deep, deep in worship to God or praying to turn their lives over to Him, and all I can do it sit there and think about how far He’s brought me over the past year. I shouldn’t even be here. How did I make it this far?
The answer doesn’t solely lie on “I worked hard.” It’s not just “I have a supportive family.” It’s not just “I’m smart.” A year ago I was in the beginning stages of my suppressed depression over who I was, what I was doing, where I was going, and how worth it everything was; on top of feeling alone. I did and said things that were a reaction of someone outside myself. Today, I am stronger, more consistent, more thoughtful, and much more aware of myself and what makes me who I am. I keep myself driven, and seek God more in what I’m doing/thinking so to avoid yielding towards the wrong side of the road whenever possible. I’m far from perfect, but I’m more conscious of my thoughts, actions and direction. Because of that, this week I thought to myself several times as I looked up to God, thinking/saying “Why am I here?”
There’s only one answer, and as I reflect on a quarter of my life now being complete, I can state it having lived the answer to its’ fullest: GOD. God has brought me to where I am. Yes, I’ve worked hard, and been supported by a great family and all that. But if you take away everything else I have going for me, God has provided it all and kept me alive. I promise, as bad off as I was before, He is the only one strong enough to depend on in true times of real trial and struggle. If God hadn’t kept me going over the past year and caught me when I fell, I wouldn’t be here. If he hadn’t still pointed me in the direction of opportunities for my future, I would have stayed in turmoil and missed out on the path He laid out for me. So as I reflect on this past month, as much as I could talk about that has happened, that really is my biggest and most important takeaway – that God has truly had my back and kept me all this time. Why does He do it? Because He loves us – past our crap, past our huge screwups, past our faults. It’s that love that you’ll never find anywhere else, and because of that it drives us INSANE. But it’s the truth!
The question is: what are we going to do about it?