As I read the question silently to myself, my heart ached. As I read it out loud, I sobbed inside. “How can I stop being suicidal?” This was an anonymous question from a teen girl to a panel of youth leaders. Scanning the crowd of girls on this particular day, you wouldn’t have been able to pick her out. I couldn’t. I wish I could tell you that this was the only question like that, that this is a one in a million question from a teen. It’s not…but that is just the thing…our teens are walking around, appearing put together on the outside, yet suffering on the inside. This is what breaks my heart, enrages my soul and led me to the ministry that my heart loves the most.
On any given day, you open up social media or the news and see a myriad of stories about bullying, teen suicide, teen drug use, trafficking, addiction, etc. The underlying theme is that “nobody knew”. Nobody knew they were struggling or hurting. If you went to their Instagram and Snap-chat stories, you would find smiles and puppy dog filters. The outward appearance seems like everything is OK. You can’t see the pain beneath the surface. So, what do we do? What, you ask, can you or I do to make this better? The best answer I can give is, SHOW THEM THEIR GOLD! Let me explain. This world is really great at telling them what they are missing, what they aren’t, what they can’t do, what they don’t have, what they should look like, what they should act like. NO MORE. Its time to change it…its time to tell them what they are! They are brave, strong, world changers. They were made and woven together for a mighty purpose.
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG
We need to look at our tweens and teens with God-colored glasses and see and tell them their worth. Let’s speak JOY into their lives! And I believe that when they start hearing these things, they will start speaking this over each other. Now, I am fully aware that there are many of us that are doing this. There are so many great organizations and ministries that do this regularly, I am part of one. But, what I realized when I was reading the question from that anonymous girl, is that we need to do more. We need to stand up and go to battle for this next generation. There is an enemy that wants our children and we need to fight for them. Spiritually and supernaturally: we need to pray fervently over the youth of our churches, cities, states, nation and world! Physically: we need to show up for them, even if it’s just listening to your own teen share a moment of their day. Emotionally: be a person for them. Everyone needs a person that will place wisdom in their life. We need to pour into them so they can become conduits of God’s love to the world and to each other.
A year and a half ago, if you would have told me I would be knee-deep in junior high youth ministry, I would have laughed in your face. But, here I am. In it for the long hall, fully in love with what God is doing with these kids and being changed one tween/teen at a time. My challenge to you is this…GET INVOLVED. Search your heart, ask God where your place in this battle could be. Could it be in youth ministry, a mentorship program, volunteering at a middle school or high school or maybe starting a prayer group with your friends that specifically prays for our youth? We are called to advance the kingdom of God, what better way to do it than lifting the youth up onto our shoulders.
Fighting with you,