Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Blast from the Past

My youth minister from high school is in town, and I have gotten the chance to spend some time reminiscing about old friends and good times. Danny and his wife, Amy, were very influential to me in my teen years and they have remained very good friends throughout the years. They are the type of friend that you just pick up where you left off with them no matter how long it has been since you have seen them or talked to them.

Whenever I think of my old youth minister, one story ALWAYS comes to my mind. I have debated putting this on here, but it is a great story.

While on a high school retreat, my youth minister and I decided to play a game of chicken. In our version of chicken, you stand opposite of your opponent with your feet spread apart. You then take a pocket knife,throw it and try to make the point of the knife stick in the ground. If you get it to stick in the ground, then you get to tell the person which foot he/she has to move. The goal is to get the person to move his/her feet closer and closer together until the person says chicken and you win. This is not your typical youth group retreat game, but everyone seemed to be getting a pretty big kick out of watching us do this so we thought it was fun.

We hit a point in the game where my feet were only about 6 or 7 inches apart. At this point, any reasonable person would have said chicken. The key to that statement was a REASONABLE person. At that time in my life, I was very competitive and wasn't going to give in and lose without a fight. So, I told him to throw the knife. My wise youth minister told me that I really needed to say Chicken, but I wouldn't and didn't listen and told him to throw the knife. My guess is that I really thought he wouldn't do it and that he would probably quit the game leaving me the winner; however, I am not positive I even thought that. All I knew was that I was going to win.

Well, the youth minister threw the knife, and unfortunately, instead of sticking in the ground, it stuck in my foot. I can still see the look of horror on my youth minister's face. Right there, he saw his judgment and job go down the tubes. The preacher's son had a horrified look on his face too; however, it wasn't for the same reason. He yelled out, "Don't tell my dad about this. I wasn't supposed to bring his pocket knife and I am going to be in so much trouble."

I just quietly sat down and pulled the knife out of my shoe (and foot). It didn't do much damage, and we got it cleaned up and put a bandage on it and I was good as new.

In all honesty, here is the best part of the story though. My youth minister felt horrible and dreaded seeing my mom. Obviously, most parents are going to have a cow if you stab their child, especially when you are a youth minister. So, he had reason to be afraid.

I told my mom about it and do you know what she said? This is not an exact quote, but here is the gist of it. "Stacey, what were you thinking? You have got to learn that you cannot let your competitiveness and pride override good judgment. The simple fact that you would not back down is evidence enough that you deserved to get a knife stuck in your foot."

Wow, what a lesson I learned that day! She made a big point that I could not blame anyone but myself, even if someone else showed poor judgment too. I can't say that I have always practiced this learning. I definitely have to work on my pride and competitiveness on a daily basis, and I would much rather blame someone else...who wouldn't? However, I still see the look on her face and the words (basically) that she said to me. I hear them after I act prideful. I hear them after I blame someone else for something. Now, I just need to work on doing something about that!

My youth minister still cringes about and takes full responsibility for this incident. Thankfully, I did not have a mother who was prone to overreacting and try to get him fired because he has gone on to do many great things at several churches. He has served as a minister and an elder and an advocate for serving God with all of your being. I respect him and his family a great deal. I think my mom talked to him, but I don't have any clue what was said. While I think it is a very bad idea to stab members of your youth group and do not advocate stabbings of any kind, being stabbed by my youth minister played a big role in growing me as a person and a Christian. (And thankfully, there probably aren't a lot of people who can say that!)

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