Teenagers today are struggling. They are wounded. Some have big wounds caused by abuse, both physical and emotional. They have big, challenging issues with sexual abuse, physical abuse, drugs, and alcohol. So many of them–even the popular kids–feel like outcasts. They feel unwelcome and not accepted for who they are.
This isn’t a Catholic problem or a Christian problem, it is a human problem. Kids need healing.
They ask themselves constantly (even if they don’t realize it):
- Am I loved?
- Am I lovable?
God loves them but they don’t know it yet. We can’t teach it. We can’t even preach it. We have to show it. We have to show them that they are loved and they are lovable through our own love for them.
It’s hard to do. It takes courage. We have to listen and feel their pain. We have to empathize and feel compassion.
We can’t run or hide from these conversations. We can’t avoid it. If we do, we validate their fears.
We have to enter into their wounds and share with them the fact that we are wounded too. We aren’t immune to pain or the fear of rejection even today. As Christians we certainly don’t avoid the pain.
This is the path to healing. The reassurance that they are not alone.
Most people don’t realize it, but this is the first and most essential step to doing evangelization. It doesn’t seem like evangelization because we’re not really talking about God or Jesus or the Church quite yet. We’re just listening and offering to be there for them.
(photo credit: Troy Benson)