Tuesday, December 9, 2008

my heart breaks

When it comes to teenagers, many situations break my heart. But one of the biggest heart breaks comes when seeing teens without hope. I've seen this in varying degrees and varying time periods. One day the kid thinks all is lost, and the very next day they can be on cloud nine. The longer you work with teens, the more you can recognize these mood swings and know that they are different than true hopelessness.

In a church/youth group environment, when a teen is experiencing such hopelessness, Don and I (individually or collectively) have been able to combat that condition with the hope that Christ gives us all. Not only have we prayed for the teen, but we could pray with him/her as well. I think this alone gave some hope to them. We could give them scripture to hold on to and meditate on. We could take them out for a coke and let them pour out their heart. We had so many resources, and I felt comfortable and knowledgeable.

I no longer work officially as a youth worker, but have a job where I have the privilege of working with middle school teens. I have now seen this hopelessness in some of the kids I work with. There's two girls that I really feel is suffering right now. They haven't shared much of their personal life (as a youth group kid probably would) but it's clear that they aren't happy, and that it's more than just a mood swing.

One symptom is that they have lost all motivation to be at school. They just don't see the need to be there, to learn, to push on to higher education (and at this point, that's high school). They don't do what's required of them, they don't participate in discussions, and they're grades are almost at rock bottom.

When I talk to them, I feel helpless to help them. I can't bring my faith into the conversation. I can't share the hope that God gives me. I can't even take them out for a coke to allow them the opportunity to talk. About all I can do is pray for them and continue to show I care by engaging them in conversation.

This has been weighing heavily on me. I want to help. I took this job with a request of God to use me, as He sees fit, to help the kids I come in contact with. Am I supposed to help these two girls? How? My prayer will continue to be that if this is what He wants, He will show me how and give me the opportunities.

In the mean time, my heart breaks.


MightyMom said...

oh girl are you right where God wants you!!

I've been there. well, you read my Santa post so you know. And how my teachers must have struggled with the restraints of public school life over me!

Some of the things they did for me in my darkest hour. Most of which I know you're already doing.

listen. earnestly. as no one else did

short, heartfelt messages. some on work handed back, some handed on the way in or out the door. (the rules may have changed, I don't know if this sort of thing is still allowed) just a sentence or two of encouragement. "I know you worked hard on this...it shows." type stuff.

compliments!! even the silliest little one carried me through the whole day.

a pat on the back. literally. my family didn't give hugs anymore and I was rarely touched. a hug would have terrified me, but I had a teach who would pat me, once, lovingly, briefly on the arm, shoulder, or back.--to this day I am a FIRM believer in the power of touch to heal and make a point of touching my patients' bare hand every night.

a smile when you see her. just seeing someone smile when I walk in the room...someone who's actually GLAD to see me. wow. you just don't know.

well, to give you some idea of how important these seemignly tiny things can be....I've cried all the way through writing this comment....just remembering these tiny acts of kindness makes me sob.

20 years later.

keep up the good work, you're doing a great job. I know that God is using all of your talents to make differences in these kids' lives. and I KNOW that a difference can be made in middle school that will stay with them for a lifetime.

God Bless You Diana.

diana said...

thank you so much mighty mom. you've brought tears to my eyes. thanks for the great suggestions and for opening your heart enough to share.

Penless Thoughts said...

Nothing is more important than prayer and God truly has put you where you are for His purposes. Being aware of these girls and praying He will let them know exactly what to do, what to say, and they will open up to you. Just allow yourself to be wholly lead by The Holy Spirit. I trust you will put this request on Hearts.

Heidi Jo said...

the ulitmate loss of hope often ends in the ending of their own life. something that cuts my heart deeply.

chad and i also have worked together with teens, and now he on his own as i can not as easily. but there is such HOPEFULNESS found in them as well. so often my somewhat 'realistic' perspective would be challenged by their belief that they indeed can DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST.

Jamey said...

I'm sure it feels like a restraint to work in the public school system and to not be able to bring your faith into it. Especially when you know it works so well. The care and interest you show in just talking to them and listening to what they have to say probably means the world to them. I'm sorry it's heartbreaking for you, but I think you are exactly where God wants to use you. If you didn't care about helping these kids it wouldn't be heartbreaking to you. I think you are exactly what these girls need.

BlessedMommy said...

I'm sure the Lord will answer your prayer and through you they will see the "Sunshine" ;)

I know it's a little early, but hope you have a Merry CHRISTmas!!!!

Amber 0:)

PS~ I saw a movie the other day and thought of you....I'm not sure why, but you've gotta see it if you haven't! August Rush - it's a little slow, but overall it's a GREAT movie! :)

Mrs4444 said...

Mighty Mom suggested we meet, and I'm glad she did. I can relate to your post (mine are in my archives under My Classroom). I teach students with emotional/behavioral disabilities and see this often. Powerlessness is tough but MM is right; just showing that you care is making a difference in these girls' lives. And who knows? Maybe one day, they will come back to see you, and you can share your inspiration then :)