Happy, Healthy, and Simple Adult Relationships

So Lisa, who lived with us briefly after finishing her undergrad at Grace College– but also essentially lived in our ministry for several years during high school, got engaged last night. That’s a continuation of the parade of weddings we’re in for in 2014 from students in Romeo.

This morning our dear friend Barb posted this on Facebook:

One thing that’s amazing about Facebook is getting glimpses of former students lives, plodding through college before finding a place in the adult world… careers, relationships, beautiful babies, personal loss and victories.

awkwardly awesome wedding tattoo
Awkwardly awesome wedding tattoo. Kristen and I are not getting this.

While not the ultimate goal of everything we did in Romeo, it certainly warms my heart to know that one message seems to have landed: God wants you to have happy, healthy, and simple adult relationships.

It’s truly possible.

We worked hard to impart that as a desire. We never said getting there would be easy or without mess or even a guarantee.

And we, as church leadership beyond just the youth ministry team, worked hard to be good [and real] examples of how to get there.

I’ll never forget bringing in the deacons and their wives to talk about how they met and how their love developed. It was 49% disaster and 51% brilliance.

As a youth pastor I was fairly boring with my teaching. (I prefer words like “methodical” or “intentional”) We spent the vast majority of each school year plodding through books of the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse.

  • 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings
  • Luke & Acts
  • Daniel & Revelation (Hey, we were a baptist church after all)
  • The Penteteuch
  • On and on…

But each year, like many youth ministries, we took February off from our normal teaching to talk about relationships.

And each year we’ve done a version of the same series.God’s desire for you is to have happy, healthy, and simple adult relationships. It’s totally possible.” And we’ve always just worked backwards from that goal with upside down, folksy advice.

  • If your friends say he’s a loser, your sister says he’s a loser, and your mama says he’s a loser: Girl, he’s a loser.
  • You’re more influential on your peers in high school than you will likely ever be again, don’t waste your time dating, invest your time in your friendships.
  • Pursue perfection in your relationship with Jesus, don’t expect your significant other to be perfect, expect them to be messy like you.
  • You’re too immature to date in high school. Focus on maturity instead, then relationships will flow from that.
  • Paul tells us to flee sexual immorality. So the question isn’t “How far is too far?” The question is “Am I fleeing sexual immorality?”

It didn’t always stick and it didn’t mean students averted failure. But we felt like it was good stuff and we repeated it year after year in one form or another.

As much as I wanted them to believe that happy, healthy, and simple adult relationships were possible for them… I wanted to speak that truth over them over and over again because I wanted it to be true for them.

Beyond a vision for purity

I had a lot of parents push True Love Waits or I Kissed Dating Goodbye on me. And I always resisted to teach something more holistic. (cough, better)

I wanted to pass along a virtue that purity isn’t the goal of sex,  that marriage isn’t the goal of relationships: That Jesus wants them to be happy (blessed) with their relationships. That Jesus wants them to have healthy, life-giving friendships. And that Jesus’ desire for them is simple, drama-free relationships.

And you know what? For a bunch of students that truth spoken over them during middle & high school has bore fruit in their adult lives.

The Parent Factor

When I think of the particular list above who is getting married I can’t help but think of the beautiful families each of them come from. I think of the times spent talking about their knuckle-headed teenagers. I think of the hours they spent volunteering in the youth group, going on mission trips and camps and leading Bible studies. I remember the embarrassment mixed with honor I felt seeing the money they invested in their kids lives through our youth ministry. I think of praying with each of them in my office or on the phone or over lunch about their kids. I remember them sitting in the parking lot waiting after yet another pointless road trip with Pastor Adam.

Long before Sticky Faith was a buzzword we worked together to integrate the youth group into the life of the church and the home. And seeing this little season of celebration on the horizon makes me happy.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

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