Monday, December 22, 2014

how I came to love teenagers

For years, since my boys were younger, I have always said that Todd could work with the older kids, or teenagers, and I would stay with the younger ones.  I guess that wasn't such a strange thing, since I worked part time at their old elementary school.  If you want to know the truth, teenagers have always intimidated me.

And then two years ago, my older boys Graham and Drew were at an inner city outreach called Street Reach.  While they were there, Drew and one of the youth pastors and five other kids were involved in a car wreck.  One of the girls in the car actually had to be taken to a hospital, via ambulance, but was later let go.  She ended up being okay, but she had whiplash.  This happened on a Wednesday, so she missed the rest of that day and Thursday, and Friday was the last day.  Also, every year, Thursday night is share night and she wanted to go and hear the stories of all that had taken place that week.  When I heard about the wreck and that my friend's daughter was taken to the hospital, I called to check on her and heard all of this.  Katie wanted to go for share night, and since it's not in a great area of town and it would be night, I offered to go with my good friend Scottie.

That night, as I listened to teenager after teenager share about what God had done in their lives this week, through those underprivileged kids, my heart swelled with love for them more and more.  I listened to how broken they were over these kids who had been hellions all week, but who so desperately needed Jesus.  They knew then and they still know now that for most of those kids, Jesus is their only hope.  If not for Him, they will turn to lives filled with violence and crime.

As I sat with tears rolling down my own face, the Lord was softening my heart toward them.

Then a couple weeks later, it was time for kids camp.  The children and family pastor Austin put me in a cabin with some really sweet girls, who at that time were going to be seniors in high school.  Through them and a few more like them who were volunteering that week as camp counselors, my heart was swelling even more with this new and unexpected love for these teenagers.

The last night of camp was skit night and lots of families came to worship with us.  Our youth pastor and his wife and their kids came, and after the service that night, the youth pastor's wife (Erin) asked me if I was interested in co-teaching the (then) tenth grade girls Bible Fellowship class.  She gave me an option of them or the ninth grade girls.  Then she told me that I could work with this one lady who wanted to be in with the ninth grade girls, or I could be with my friend Scottie.  When I heard her name, it was a no-brainer.

And how funny that God had already aligned our paths that summer through the wreck our kids were involved in, even though we hadn't really been that close in a few years.

Countless times since then, I have thanked God for making me fall in love with these wonderful creatures.  Because, they are a different breed, these teenagers.  At first, they were so intimidating to me, but then I realized that they're not at all.  They are rare gems that need to be loved on and carefully tended to.  I am not saying that every single day in our class has been hunky dory.  It's not been.  We have all had our ups and downs, and we all know each other really well by now.  (This is our second year in a row to be with our same girls.)  Sometimes knowing them so well can mean that they are a little too comfortable with you, and lines can sometimes be crossed that maybe should not be crossed, as far as attitudes go.

But I do adore them.  And even though some of them can be difficult from time to time, I have been reminded that they still need to be loved on.  I've been encouraged to never give up on them and to never quit loving them and praying for them.

These are part of the sweet girls that came over tonight.  Only four of our girls could come, with this being the week of Christmas, but the ones who came had fun.  And so did Scottie and me.  Here are just a couple of the pictures I took.

And yes, I know that Graham isn't a girl, but I couldn't resist posting this picture of him.

Thanks for reading about my love of these girls.  I thank God for them, and the impact they have had on my life.  I pray that my life, even in some tiny way, impacts theirs for the good.

Love to all.

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