What a blessing to be able to attend a missions conference among the beauty of the mountains of Gatlinburg. We have a beautiful view from the balcony of our hotel room and despite the rain have had a really nice time while here.
So this morning I attended a conference titled, “TICK, TOCK, TICK, TOCK…..Teenagers are Crying Out…” led by Bruce Edwards, Youth Ministry Specialist for TN Baptist Convention. He gave us a lot of statistics that I am not going to take the time to type out. The numbers were not really all that surprising given all of the things we see on the news and we hear our kids talk about today. But he shared this essay written by a teenager that I really want to share with you. It really spoke to me. This teenager really speaks volumes in this essay. And I think he/she could be any student that you know.
I AM TODAY’S TEENAGER
I am today’s teenager. I live in a world that most adults do not understand. I have intertwined conflict, pressure, diversity and an unbelievable schedule into such a confusing ball of existence that even I am not sure who I am.
I have been let down by so many adults that now adults that now I expect to be disappointed and have thus lowered my standards of what to expect. But I dream big.
I am judged for the clothing I wear as odd or out of place. But I look at my parent’s attire at my age and realize it is nothing new, just my generation’s attempt to express our own individuality.
My generation is tired of words and promises and is only impressed by actions. You say God can change my life. I ask how has He changed YOURS? You say God is a God of compassion and I will ask you what you have done to feed the hungry or care for the homeless. I must see evidences of changed life in order to believe those words.
I am merely a survivor of my middle school years of discovery. For in those years I was hurt, shocked and often made to feel left out. I felt I was playing a game in which no one even knew the rules; for they changed daily.
I have visited your churches and not found much differences from the world of hurt I thought I was escaping, for I found the same students and the same struggles. I did not find answers.
Over half of my generation will not know what it it is like to grow up in an intact home. Many of us will vie for attention in a home with siblings that are not our own. Others of us will live in a home where a mother and father have emotionally divorced, but are still in the same household.
I am today’s teenager. I have been so hurt I have developed a shell to protect me from further pain. Most adults interpret this shell as meaning I don’t care. But I do. I care deeply. My friends are those who accept me as I am without judgment, criticism or condemnation.
I am searching. I will cling to things that others do not understand, thinking I believe these things give me identity, because I cannot find it in other ways.
I cannot put sex and moral behavior in the neat tidy boxes many of you do. These things are not so clear to me. I believe truth is what works for me; which may not be what works for you.
My generation and those before mine have been labeled by behavioral scientists in order to describe us by our ages and behaviors and beliefs. My generation has been so hard to label, we were simply called “X” like the unknown, a mosaic, like a mass collection of oddities.
I am today’s teenager.
–Written by a student, Hendersonville, TN
I will give my comments on this essay tomorrow.