By: Staci Stallings
Ha ha. Just kidding. It just feels like it’s been that long!
VBS week has a way of being like six months long. It starts out that way on Monday with way too much to do and by Friday, you’re just surviving to get to the next minute, the next set issue, the next costume problem, the next performance…
And this year in many ways has been no different. Then again, in some ways it’s been totally different.
You see, five of the kids on the skits are new, but many have been with us from the very start. Two were mortal enemies from the very beginning (and that’s not exaggerating just too much). When I showed up on the scene six years ago, they were at each other’s throats, and not much has changed since them. One of these was older and far more rule oriented. The other was in sixth grade and just wanted to have some fun. They were like oil and water laced with explosives.
Over the years, I’ve cajoled them, listened when they were openly critical of the other, mediated fights, even prayed all night one night that both would show up the next morning when each had vehemently threatened to quit because of the other mid-week. That was last year in fact on the one day out of 30 performances that I had to miss due to a very sick child, and the day the wheels for all intents and purposes came completely OFF the bus.
Prompted the next day by the Holy Spirit, I had a sit down with the whole cast (everybody mad at everyone else and camps fenced off and verbally protected from “the others”). I remember that morning so well. After five years of putting everything I knew into the plays, we were on the brink of certain and total collapse with three plays left to somehow give and no one wanting to work with anyone else. So I did the only thing I could. I got really honest.
I sat there, and I told them all how much I valued each one of them, how proud I was to be on a team with them–not with one group or the other, but with ALL of them. I told them how I admired every one of them for different reasons, and they didn’t have to all be the same or to ever compete because frankly, I like them all just the way they are. One is not better than another because of their philosophy or style. They each have something real and wonderful to share, and they work because of their differences not in spite of them.
Then came this year. One thing I have done from the second year of doing skits with these two who have been enemies was to script fights so they could use some of that animosity in a good, productive way. It was not even a secret that I was doing that. And remarkably it worked. They liked fighting–especially with each other.
On Tuesday of this week, the scripted fight turned into a scripted shoving match, and one of the kids told the girl she was mean for pushing the guy down (which actually was funny because he was a full 8 inches taller than her).
And then, something really bizarre happened, something that I really never envisioned, never even thought possible. I walked out of where we do the plays, and there were the two of them–and only them–sitting on the sidewalk talking, not arguing, not fighting, not defending or calling me in to explain why the other was wrong–just talking as friends.
Each day this week, I have introduced and said a few words about each cast and crew member. Today I got to the two of them, who I introduced last and not as one or the other, but as a team. They’ve been with me six years. To me, they are the core of the Skit Team. For six years, they have fought and worked and been mad but still shown up, learned lines, created sets, fought some more…. Then this afternoon as we broke one set down to put up the next, from across the room, I saw them sitting there, working together…
You know, sometimes VBS is about teaching the stories of Jesus, and sometimes it’s about watching them in action. And you never, ever know which one it’s going to be.
On a Personal Note: To all my Skit Team Members who have work the VBS plays with me, all those who have in the past and all those who were here again or just joined up this year… I thank you, sincerely from the very bottom of my heart, for all your hard work, your passion, your persistence, your presence, your time, your love of fun and your mission to pass on the love of Jesus to others! You continually inspire me to learn to live in the moment and to show that God’s love is FUN! What better ambassadors could He ever have chosen?! I feel blessed, honored, and very privileged to work with each of you. Know that you are each a piece of my life that I will never forget!