I know pride is a sin, but I really hope that being proud of someone isn’t. Several times in the last month, I’ve reflected on some of the younger-than-me adults of whom I’m immensely proud. It comes with the territory of doing my job. Sometimes I get so frustrated with teenagers that I want to shake them, or put them in a padded room…or maybe I’m the one who needs the padded room?! Other times, I am so proud of them that I’m crying. I feel guilty about this. It’s God who has worked in them, not me. He should be proud of them; that’s not my place. I’m not their mom; their moms deserve to be proud of them. But, I am their youth pastor, and I cannot help but be proud of them, too.
The first former youth I’m proud of is Hunter Frame. I should say, “Dr. Hunter Frame, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech.” Last Thursday morning I heard Hunter present an overview of his doctoral research to his review board and a scattering of friends and family members. That’s the unique thing about my pride for this former youth. He’s not just a former youth; he’s also my little brother-in-law. The professors said they’d never had so many family members show up to hear a doctorate defended; I’m proud of that, too. Our presence at Virginia Tech Thursday morning was all Hunter asked from my husband and me for Christmas, and I’m pleased we obliged.
In the summer of 2001, I was a Summer Youth Ministry Intern. Hunter Frame was attending that church with his girlfriend. That meant Hunter was in my youth group. His brother, Sammy, was leading a larger youth group a few miles down the road. But, it’s hard to compete with teenage love for youth group affiliation, and Hunter chose his girlfriend over his brother.
Hunter and I knew each other. I had dated his big brother for over two years. He was the little brother who acted up when we went out to fancy restaurants with their parents. He was the little brother who hung out with us when their parents were screaming and fighting. He was the little brother who caught us making out.
But now he wasn’t the little brother. He was a student in my youth group.
I wasn’t big brother’s girlfriend, either. I was his summer youth ministry intern.
Hunter and I had the unique opportunity to get to know each other apart from our connections to Sammy Frame. I think we found out that we liked each other alright. He was fun, always acting up, and incapable of shutting his mouth. I was uptight and incapable of keeping him in line.
I was also there when he decided to become a Christ follower.
He bet me that summer that I would be his sister-in-law one day. I took the bet. I still owe him $500. He reminded me again last week.
I am proud of a young man whose family was ripped apart during his high school years but who excelled in school anyway.
I am proud of a young man who discovered his passions, interests, and talents and went after them.
I am proud of a young man who attended church as a teenager, even though his parents didn’t.
I am proud of a young man my son calls, “Crazy Uncle Hunter.”
I am proud of a young man who makes my daughter belly laugh.
I am proud of Dr. Hunter Frame, and I am thankful that I once had the honor of being his pastor.