>I was sixteen – that seems a good place to start. I had led music for my youth group for a couple of years… this Sunday morning was no exception. My co-leader had been tapped for the main service downstairs, and Brent was filling in (albeit tentatively) as guitarist. He was a little bit of a novice, still getting his bearings on the instrument; it had taken quite a bit of cajoling to get him to play up front as the “main guy.”
So here we were, leading the group in song. We paused between numbers. Suddenly, as teenagers are wont to do, kids started chanting. “Touch of Light!” they yelled, a current favorite song amongst the group. There was a moment of panic amongst the band. What do we do?
I wanted to protect Brent, who had so courageously offered himself up for this despite his well-warranted reservations. I wanted to say, “Hey! Go easy on the guy! He’s nervous, and I don’t know if he knows how to play that! We seriously practiced to make sure this was as painless as possible for him! Stop!”
What came out was, “Hey, this isn’t a democracy…”
Before any other words came forth, someone shouted back “Who made YOU tyrant?!?!”
I remember nothing after this point – if I said anything else, if anyone else said anything else to me. All I recall is the face of two dear friends as they shouted, “Who made YOU tyrant?!?!” over and over again. Angry. Disdainful. Hateful.
I do know that at some point one of the youth leaders stepped up and regained control, checked with Brent that he could, indeed, play “Touch of Light” (or attempt it, anyway), and off we went into the song. I looked at the floor, tried not to cry publicly, tried not to believe that my friends really thought that of me.
And why, to this day, that moment remains emblazoned on my mind and heart is completely beyond me. The shame, embarrassment, the feeling of being totally misunderstood and not given the benefit of the doubt – it haunts me. Anytime I think of something I regret, or a time I’ve failed or fallen short – this is the moment that comes rushing back, no less painful than when it happened nearly 15 years ago.
I have no contact with the people involved anymore.
I no longer lead up front – barely know where I stand in terms of faith anymore. Don’t know if I’d want Olive to grow up and be Little Suzy Youth Group like I was.
So why does this still get me?