at some point when i wasn’t paying attention, God changed something in me.
i’m talking specifically here, about a burden He placed on my heart when i was looking the other way.
i don’t know when it happened, but my heart started breaking for teen girls. this would be a good thing seeing as i was a leader at my church’s youth group.
but i never expected it to root so deep within my heart, to last long after i stepped back from that role.
maybe it has something to do with the fact that my teen years were hard. i was lonely and i made a million mistakes without ever pausing to seriously give weight to the consequences. these girls asked me questions and argued with me. they challenged me and were a constant reminder of grace in my life.
too often i think they get ignored. it’s a time of transition. they need some independence.
but more than anything, they need a hand. a shoulder. gentle words. why don’t we give them that? why do we forget about them and then lament about losing the younger generations?
people can be vicious and cruel. especially online. i see teen girls who think it’s fine to be harsh with their words to others because they’re fed up and frustrated so they lash out. i see their victim who doesn’t know how to react. it’s so sudden and her confusion is apparent, she doesn’t know what she did wrong or what she did to deserve this.
if i could step in front of her and take every verbal bullet, i would. i’d do it in a heartbeat, i can feel that my gut reaction is to do exactly this. but i can’t. so i do the other thing instead; i respond and i try to use words that are uplifting and kind and to remind her that she is special and she doesn’t deserve this.
and i hope i’m not too late. because that was the girl who sat quietly in my group, and never caused trouble. she never asked for anything at all. she didn’t bombard me with questions and stories of her daily dramas, but she would smile shyly and say goodbye and go her own way. and i just didn’t take the time to build her up as much as i could have. as much as i SHOULD have.
i convinced myself i was too busy. that i was already doing enough, and i couldn’t help them all. and this is true. but i used them as justifications for never giving a glance her way. and that’s not right.
because i’m only 21. i’m new to adulthood still. i never imagined for a minute that i would have 12, 14, or 17 year olds looking up to me. you think they won’t, but they do. they have hawk eyes and they watch you and they remember what you do and say, and they’ll bring it up later if they need to (and they will, believe me).
you want conviction? look no further. there’s nothing like knowing someone younger looks to you for an example of how they should grow.
which brings me to another topic. you know, it wasn’t until a year ago that i realized mentorship and discipleship actually exists. i had never heard of people i knew actually doing this. i never met an older woman who was willing to talk to me, and would remind me that she would make time for me.
did you see that? the key phrase there is “make time”. time like this doesn’t just happen. and we wrap ourselves up in so much else, when so little else actually matters in the end.
the problem is that i waste so much of my time on fruitless endeavours. i claim that i’m “too busy” but i have so much time which ends up wasted. gone.
but yes, i am still busy. law school will do that to you. trying to have a life outside of that, hobbies to help me de-stress, will eat up your time.
but if i am being deeply, brutally honest with myself. i am not too busy to invest in the life of a young woman. i am not too busy to do more than just say hello or smile at a group of girls and keep walking by. if i could get to know some really well, prepare myself to be a real mentor to those younger than me, i would be acting in obedience.
the Bible talks so much about the Christian life, but why have we so easily ignored this command to discipleship and mentorship? if each and every one of us could just find one person to really love and care for, to encourage and to lift up, to value and get to know, to equip them with tools as they grow- maybe we could try and stop so many from slipping through the cracks.
in a lovely, ideal world we would all have parents to do this for us. and i do not, in any way, want to diminish the role and impact parents have on their children – especially the bond between mother and daughter. but the reality is that, not only is a mentor relatioinship beneficial in general and in no way hinders parent/child relationships, not everyone has a parent to step into that role.
fathers die. mothers leave their children behind. some parents fail to be the type of model their child needs. we do not live in that ideal world.
and i say this from the position of a child who grew up without her parents around. if it had not been for other family members to step in to that role, i do not know where i would be now. and as the sister of a motherless girl, i cannot emphasize how vital it is to these girls especially that people, yes multiple people not just one person, step up to the plate and fulfill this need.
i believe God has placed a huge desire in my heart now to be a part of youth ministry in any way that i can. and every one of us can serve in different ways. but we are all called to do this in our own small ways – you may not end up mentoring a teen girl, but the idea is the same. we have a job to do. we have been called to obedience.
Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. ~Titus 2:3–5