Life is messy, complicated, and funny

Emily Capes, Director of Youth Ministries, Lebanon FUMC

946232_320791754719344_46944411_nLife is messy. And complicated. And funny.

I sat on a towel as I drove across Nashville  on I-40 to the west side which is about 45 minutes away from my church on the east side.   I was house sitting for some friends for the weekend – taking care of their two very cute little dogs.  It was a Sunday night and I brought a pretty messy egg game to my youth group for our very first Fall Kick-Off together.  I had egg hardening in my hair, on my face, on some of my clothing and my left arm.

It had been a fun night.  There were youth at the kick-off that I hadn’t met yet.  I had over 20 parents and adults involved who helped pull off this thing called the Eggstravaganza.  The youth and parents took a risk with me to try something that could have not worked.  But it did.   I was so proud of how inclusive and welcoming everyone was.   It was a great night of community.  And messiness.

Over an hour later – I am tired, smelly and ready to shower and go to bed.  I get out of my car at my friends house. And I wasn’t able to find their key. I slowly realize that I left it sitting on my desk. In my office. At my church. Over 45 minutes away.

Mosquitoes swarmed around my head and a little sweat dripped down my back… I stood in their driveway and looked at the row of duplexes in front of me.  I knew one or two of the neighbors had a key to their house. But I wasn’t sure which one. And I wasn’t very excited to go knocking on doors and have to explain why I probably smelled like egg.

Seriously.  What would you think if someone you didn’t know came to your door and had hair sticking up because of egg and asking for a house key, claiming to be a youth minister.

Even though I didn’t want to bother my friends on their vacation, I sent my friend a text and asked if she could let me know which neighbor had their house key and hoped I would hear from her soon!

I climbed back in my car and decided to look under my seats and in the console.  Maybe it was still in my car!

About the time I decided to drive back to my church to get the key– one of the neighbors drove up.  As they got out of their car I walked over slowly (I didn’t want to scare them) and introduced myself and explained that I was a youth minister and to please not be frightened by my smell and how I looked AND did they happen to be the neighbors that had my friends key?

Nope, no key.  They apologized for not having a key.  And they felt sorry for me.  They offered their shower if I wanted to take one before I drove back to Lebanon.  But I said no and turned back to my car.  I was just going to have a long night driving and being messy and smelly.

I walked up to my car and dug in both pockets.  NO KEY.

I locked my car keys in my car.


Now what.

I am not able to get into the house that I am staying in.  And I am unable to get into my own car to go and get the house key.

I just started to laugh.  And laugh.  It’s 9:00 p.m.  I’ve been living in the Nashville area for 3 months.  Who could I call?  I was sitting on the front steps of my friends house with their dogs just inside the door barking, I was covered in egg and mosquito bites at this point and all I could do was laugh.  I even watched a girl who was out walking her dog – walk a little faster as she passed the driveway.

Isn’t this just how life is?  A beauty and a success and then you fall on your face. Maybe not quite as absurd but definitely humbling. I don’t know, maybe I am the only one that has things like this happen to me.  But I do know that we have moments where all of us feel less then. I felt so pathetic for a few minutes sitting on that front step.  And then I laughed some more.

I’ve retold this story to my youth and to a couple friends.  Cause it’s such a crazy story!  Every time I tell it most people laugh and there is at least one person who looks at me as if it’s a miracle that I am able to get through most of my days without falling a part.

I love that I have this story to tell.  It reminds me that God chooses to work through me because of His grace.

Ephesians 3:7-9

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

I am the least of these.  I mess up a lot of silly things like forget keys. I mess up real things like relationships and trust and so much more…

But that isn’t the end of the story.

I get to be in relationships. I get to serve alongside teenagers.

I think God laughed with me the night of our Fall Kick-off.  He also reminded me that I am not alone. I reached out to others and was able to get back into my car.  I heard from my friend and was able to get the key for their house from a neighbor.  I took a great shower and slept well that night.

The best story that I told during the next week was the story of how God is doing new things in our youth group.  The story of the parents and adults who came on Sunday night to help make our Kick-off successful.  The story of new relationships with 7th graders and youth who haven’t been to the church in awhile.

What story is God telling through your life in your ministry?