Never did I think that seeing all the Twilight movies and reading the books would come to my advantage when building relationships with people in our neighborhood. In January a girl in middle school that I have gotten to know had come over to our place, and we sat there playing games silently with a few words shared between the two of us. When it was time for me to walk her home it had become extremely foggy outside, and directly across the street from our place is park that was filled with the rolling in fog. Rickayla looked at me and stated that the park looked like a scene from one of the Twilight movies, and for the rest of the walk we discussed the Twilight Saga.
Up until this point every time we would hang out I was usually asking endless questions getting very few responses back, and Rickayla usually just wanted to play games or just come over and hang around. Since our Twilight conversation our relationship has changed. She has become much more willing to talk and answer my questions, and she has even been willing to bring up topics of conversations with me. Sometimes the conversations are simply about how the week has been going and what is happening at school, but than other times they have been deeper.
Recently Rickayla and her family moved from the house they were living in right down the street from us to an apartment complex several blocks away. Determined to maintain the relationship that I have built her and that Josh and I have built with the family, we make a point to walk to their place every week to hang out, chat, and see how everyone is doing. It took me by surprise the first time we did this and Rickayla and her two siblings were shocked that we would actually be willing to walk to see them. As I talked more with Rickayla it became evident that she was worried that by them moving further away that we wouldn’t see each other.
This past weekend, the conversation of church and God came up. Rickayla stated that she believes in God and all but she doesn’t go to church because she doesn’t have the correct clothing. When I asked her further what she meant, she told me that you should dress up in your Sunday best when you go to church because you need to look and be respectful at church and before God. I didn’t know how to respond. On one side she’s right, and that is a message I’ve heard my entire life. However, on the other side I have come to know that God will accept you exactly how you are. He takes us in all of our brokenness and shows us how much he loves us.
The result of our conversation was me saying that she is always welcome at church no matter what she’s wearing and that she is welcome to come to youth group on Sunday afternoons. But I know that just as it took me walking to see her at her new place it is going to take more than a simple invitation.