I think we, as the Body of Christ, sometimes get it really wrong, especially with our teens. We challenge them to be an example, be a light, to dress, walk, talk, be different so others will see Jesus. And yet those words, without the growing love of Christ in them, are just one more expectation, one more place to fall short, let others down, fail.
I used to feel differently, before I was the mom of teens. Before I got a glimpse of why some of these kids feel hopeless. Hopeless enough to drink, take drugs, cut, starve, binge, give themselves away, long to die.
And it breaks my heart. And I want to ask them, “Don’t you know that you are beautiful? Talented? Special? Amazing? Created in the very image of God? Loved with abandon and without expectation, more than life itself? Enough to die for?
But they don’t. Because hopelessness swallows vision and skews perspective, and somehow the love extended completely misses their hearts. And those who love them never even know.
We’ve become a culture adept at masking pain and loneliness and need. An affluent, educated, cultured people living in the suburbs with dozens of friends and busy social calendars and a web of on-line connections, who have no idea what it means to need – to be vulnerable enough to admit that we don’t have it all together, that we’re overwhelmed or insecure or unsure or lonely or hurting. And that we long for someone who gets us.
Way back in creation, before the fall, before sin, when Adam walked in complete, unbroken fellowship with God, God Himself said, “It is not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” (Genesis 2:18)
“It is not good for the Man to be alone….” Not my words, but God’s.
We need others. We were meant to live in community, to share our hearts and lives, to be intimately connected, for where “two or three are gathered in My name” Jesus said, “there I am in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) We were meant to do this life together.
And when we don’t the meaning, the value, the hope bleed from our souls one slow heartbeat at a time.
Our teens don’t want to die, they just want the pain to end. They long to be part of something bigger than themselves, to be seen, heard, wanted, loved in spite of, regardless of, right in the messy midst of rejection and loss and falling short and loneliness and disappointment and failure.
Our kids need to know they are loved, first by us and then by God, for only then will they rise up as witnesses, examples, lights, powerful beacons born of the One living in them that draw others to Him — His Heart, His Life, His unquenchable, unfailing Love. And it will change the world!