devozine

For Youth Workers Post

CRUSHED

Steven Lefebvre

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for February 8–14, 2016.

MAKING THE CONNECTIONS

“I remember dating in high school as a battlefield and as a constant reminder of my loneliness and longing to be loved. The problem for me was that I didn’t know what a healthy relationship looked like. All I knew was that I wasn’t supposed to ‘do it.’ So I went with what felt good and tried not to break the rules. Needless to say, I was always unsatisfied and frustrated. What’s worse is that my frustrations didn’t end in high school. I spent most of my twenties aimlessly trying to quench my thirst for intimacy. I hope this discussion makes the conversation bigger than simply following the rules and elevates us to talking about how we can live out our Christian mission even as we date.” —Steven

MEET THE WRITER

devozine Steven LefebvreMy name is Steven Lefebvre. I work with the youth and young adults at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Before my life of working at a church, I was the lead vocalist in a heavy metal band. These days I spend my free time being an armchair film critic, reading comic books, and playing much quieter music (well, sort of). I’m also an amateur champion of darts and dodge ball. I’m a huge fan of going to baseball games in the summer and to college basketball games in the winter. I have a wife, two dogs, and a baby.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • a basket
  • paper
  • pens
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN

CHECKING IN

Invite group members to play He Said/She Said. Explain that as a group, they will write a bunch of love stories. Distribute paper and pens. Ask each person to write at the top of his or her paper a man’s name. The man should be somebody everyone knows or knows of—for example, a celebrity or perhaps your pastor. Then ask them to fold the paper back, hiding the name, and to throw all the papers in a basket. After everyone is done, ask each person to reach into the basket, to pull out someone else’s paper, and to write a woman’s name at the top of the page. Again, the woman should be someone everyone knows or has heard of. Then ask people to fold the paper back again and to place it in the basket. Essentially, group members will complete this same action seven times as you invite them to write the following, in order:

  1. A man’s name
  2. A woman’s name
  3. Where the man and woman are
  4. What they are doing
  5. What he said
  6. What she said
  7. What is the moral of the story? What did the man and woman learn?

After all the papers are filled out, invite group members to take turns reading the responses in narrative form. (For example: “One day President Lincoln and Taylor Swift were in the mall playing football. Lincoln turns to Taylor and says, ‘What’s that smell?’ She says, ‘Don’t you think this is a lovely blouse?’ It was then that they learned that you look both ways before crossing the street.”)

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Song of Solomon 1:2–9

The Song of Solomon is one of the most bizarre books of the Bible. It’s a story about two lovers who long to be with each other. It’s sexual and specific. Many people argue it’s about God’s relationship with Israel. Huh? Gross!

Let me, however, challenge your assumptions about a sexual relationship. In our culture today, sex has been boiled down to “doin’ it.” People and, most commonly, women are seen as objects of desire; and sexual expression is totally private. But think about pornography, online dating, hook-up apps, all of which are basically individual activities. The sexual ethic in our culture is personal, private, and individualized.

I’m not suggesting that we go back to the ‘good old days’ when women were property and marriages were more about the exchange of goods than mutual affection. Despite the massive gender inequalities of the time, the writer of Song of Solomon gets three things right.

This Valentine’s Day, as you are pursuing a dating relationship, maintaining one, or trying to reconcile why no one is dating you, use the Song of Solomon as a reminder of what a whole relationship—one that is not only fulfilling but makes both people better—requires.

  • A Kiss is Sacred. How far is too far? This is a question that was continually asked when I was in high school. But I’ve learned now that this is the wrong question. Song of Solomon 1:2–9 reminds us that the simple act of kissing has the power to bind us together. So then is kissing my girlfriend or boyfriend OK? Honestly, I don’t know; but before you go plant one on your Bae, consider your reasons for doing so. Are you pursuing a partnership or a conquest? Are you trying to get something or give something? Are you serving or manipulating? Although kissing can seem innocent, if our intentions aren’t toward sharing and a mutual building up, it can be quite destructive.
  • Friends Weigh in. Is your relationship public or private? Does your relationship draw others closer to the two of you, or are you isolating yourselves? In Song of Solomon 1:2–9, the lovers’ friends rejoice and delight in the relationship and encourage it. If your relationship isn’t met with positivity from your community, it may be worth thinking deeply about why.
  • Is your love a metaphor for God? First John is in the New Testament. The writer argues that the only way others will know the love of God is through the love of one another. Our love for one another demonstrates what we believe about God. What kind of God are you modeling in your relationship or pursuit of a relationship? Is it the God of grace, sacrifice, and making all things new? The Song of Solomon reminds us that the way we long to love one another, God longs for us. In terms of lust, we must remember that all people are children of God and our pursuit of them must be full of dignity.

Discuss:
       What is complicated about dating in high school or middle school?
       In your experience, are teenage relationships ones that model the relationship in Song of Solomon? Why? Why not?
       When you are pursuing a relationship, do you draw closer or farther away from God?

SHARING IN PRAYER

Close in prayer by inviting group members to read in unison 1 Corinthians 13.

TAKING IT FURTHER

  • If you are struggling with this relationship thing, sometimes it’s best to quit trying. If you are not in a relationship, take a vow to stop pursuing romance for one month. For this month, make a conscious effort to stop looking at people of the opposite sex as potential mates; instead, be present to their friendship. Sometimes removing ourselves from needing a relationship can be quite freeing and opens us up to new possibilities.
  • If you are already in a relationship, think about ways you can bring others into your relationship without it being weird or alienating. Talk with your boyfriend or girlfriend about how others feel when they’re hanging out with you, and make a new plan.

—from devozine In the Habit (January/February 2016). Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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