It was fascinating to watch the aftermath of the first night of the youth gathering. Nadia, my tremendous wife, was the main speaker for that one night, and the work she did to create her presentation (based on the reaction from the gathering) was well worth it. I've been to a few of these gatherings, and the speakers are always good. She seems to have had a more significant impact, though, than many of the other speakers I've heard over other years.
Obviously I may be biased, and I'm certainly not trying to take anything away from the other speakers from other years. I've always appreciated what they've had to say. What I notice, though, is that the youth who are at the gathering felt more of a connection with her more than they did with other people.
And I think I have an idea why. I could be wrong, but I think I have at least part of an idea why.
Nadia's not afraid to tell the truth. She's not afraid to tell the truth about the world, about herself, and about G-d.
In addition, she has a compelling and engaging way of connecting those three things together.
It seems to me that one of the things that young people (who are trying to figure out where they belong in the world) need and desire is adults who will tell them the truth. But it's not enough to tell the truth ~ young people also need adults who will listen to the truth about who they are, to the truth about what it means to be a teenager in their location in the world today.
In the wake of her talk last night, Nadia has been continually approached by youth and adults who have shared with her how much she meant to them. I didn't argue with any of them, but I'd be willing to bet that they're less moved by Nadia and more moved by their encounter with G-d.
Because that's what I experienced from the event last night ~ the speaker on the stage telling young people the truth about themselves, and the truth about G-d, in a way that gave them enough permission to be able experience Holy Spirit as more than the excitement of a huge gathering ~ and which gave them the vulnerability to allow Holy Spirit to have an impact on the deepest parts of their being.