**this is a Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop Post**
I have grown up in church. I don't remember a time in my life when we were not expected to attend church on a Sunday morning if we were in town and healthy. I went to Sunday School, Kids Quest, Youth Group. I went through the Missionette's program when I was in elementary school and I have a huge trophy to prove I graduated.
Middle school youth group had always been fun. I had a good group of friends and I love, love, loved the youth pastor. I felt like he was a really good role model, a good person to look up to, and really, if you can't look up to your youth pastor then just who can you look up to, right?
He would talk about having God time before bed and reading his Bible. Both he and his wife were committed to the youth and to the Lord. It was really a great environment to grow up in - especially during those identity crisis filled 6th through 8th grade years.
I went on missions trips, built relationships, learned more about God and felt like I was really in a good place in my life.
And then the unthinkable happened. Our youth pastor left. But it gets so much worse.
Not only did he just up and leave our youth group community, but he took another youth leader with him - and she wasn't his wife. They just up and split - they didn't even stay in the same state.
My trust was shattered. My hope was crushed. Someone that I looked up to on a weekly basis to be my pastor, to be my mentor had just abandoned me. And not only me - he'd forgotten about every other student in attendance.
I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to have anything more to do with youth group, so I didn't return. We eventually left the church, and I was a junior in high school before I even remotely agreed to contemplate returning to youth group. I didn't know if my youth pastor would leave me again. I was scared to trust someone in a leader's position to walk with me in my journey with Christ.
I showed up to a group of high schoolers congregating outside the foyer in the hot summer evening. I didn't know a soul, so I kind of just wandered around aimlessly until I found a comfortable spot leaning against a pillar and watching the action.
It had been a few minutes before I was approached by a man who I assumed to be in his thirties. He introduced himself and asked me some questions. He could tell I was new and asked if he could introduce me to some kids he thought were "really cool." I agreed because if I knew myself, I would never make friends on my own.
He took me over to a group of kids and introduced me to two girls who were best friends. I was scared to be the third wheel and I didn't know if they were really going to include me and show me around or if they would ditch me the first chance they got.
I have to pause and say that I am continually amazed by God's awesomeness.
These girls not only palled around with me all night, but invited me to their small group where I connected with more teenage girls, all my age too, and two awesome small group leaders. Not only was I plugged in to a great group of Godly girls, but I got to know the youth pastor, too. I decided he wasn't anything like my old youth pastor who had left me to fend for myself, and that in fact he was much, much better.
Not only was my faith restored in Jesus, but it was also restored in people. My experience with that high school youth group was so very amazing that I wouldn't change it for anything. My faith developed just as well as my relationships. I went on a missions trip to DC with that group of girls that I was so hesitant to meet.
Unfortunately we're not as close as we were. A few of us has moved on to different colleges and thank the Lord for Facebook so we can all keep in touch - even if it's just every once in a while.
And that is the story of how I lost heart and gained it back at least five times over. The only thing I'm sorry about was that it took me until Junior year to decide that I really wanted to be involved again.