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If only they knew

March 15, 2014

Though my passion is writing one of my other great loves is working with teenagers. Whether youth ministry at my church or substitute teaching at our local high school, many of my days are surrounded by youth. I have such a heart for these young people. Often, as I’m walking the halls at school or in the classroom, I can look in the eyes of a student and suspect what they are feeling, after all, I was there once too.

 Young people have this desire to be noticed and then at the same time, not noticed at all. They can also be so cruel to one another. Their words fly out of their mouths without giving any thought to the lasting memory a two second sentence can make, after all, hurting people hurt others. In their desire to fit in, sometimes kids float from one group to another, searching for the one that will accept them for who they are or who they think they want to be. Yet sometimes, when desperate to be accepted by anyone, kids change their behavior and imitate others just to be included. That usually ends up badly.  

It is so sad to watch because I know that the root of so much of this behavior is just a desire to be loved and accepted for who they are at this stage of their lives. No, I’m not a therapist or other career professional with initials behind my name. But I do know the characteristics of one who doesn’t truly know how much they are loved by their creator. I know because I’ve been there. I was raised in a Christian home with loving parents and I was in church every time the doors opened with youth leaders who cared about me. I knew about God but I didn’t know God. I prayed every night before bed. As I got older I included prayers begging for forgiveness, carrying the world on my shoulders. I never got it that I could be in relationship with Jesus all the time and that He would direct my steps and do His best to help me make good decisions. I didn’t know that I could actually feel His comfort during hard times. And, I didn’t knowingly have a relationship with the Holy Spirit at all, yet looking back, I remember hearing His still small voice. Sometimes I listened, often times I didn’t. I wish I had every time.

 Maybe it was living my teen years in the 70’s but somewhere through it all, I missed it.  Though I believed in God and that His Son Jesus died for me, I never really knew Him, only about Him.  I didn’t know how much I was loved and who I truly was in Christ. And I for sure didn’t know what it meant to be a child of the Most High God and to be a part of His Kingdom. I had such a void within me that needed to be filled, but I just didn’t know how. I didn’t know that I was created with that void to be filled with and by God Himself. Oh, how life changed once I finally got hold of this truth!

If these students today truly knew how very precious they are to God they would live each day differently. They would be excited to know who they are in Christ and all He will do through them. They would respect themselves and others and make different choices. They wouldn’t care so much what others thought of them because they would know that they are wonderfully and fearfully made. They wouldn’t fear their future because they would trust that God has a good plan for their life and has given them gifts and talents that will be a blessing not only to them but to those around them as well. They would know that, Yes!, there is something that they are good at and will enjoy spending their life doing. They wouldn’t spend so much time feeling guilty about bad choices because they would know about forgiveness and unconditional love. They wouldn’t feel like that there is no hope for their future because of where and how they were raised, or even bad choices they made, because they would know the Redeemer Who brings beauty from ashes. They would live like those who have no doubt they are perfectly loved and that God is working things out for good, whatever it is.  If only they knew, their lives would never be the same.

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