Last night’s conversation at youth group confirmed what we all already know: death and dying, loss and sadness – it sucks.
There have been numerous deaths in our community in the last month – both in our church and in our county. Two teenage boys from the same school district drowned within two weeks of each other. Two amazing men of faith from our congregation succumbed to illness and cancer. Death and dying sucks. There’s really no nice way to describe the feeling.
Last night was tough, but it was important; it was important for our students to have opportunity to vent, talk, and for others to listen. It was important because it confirmed 2 things about today’s teens:
1) There is a shortage of adults who are willing to really LISTEN. I was impressed with my team of volunteers last night. Last night wasn’t really fair to them. I sort of threw them to the wolves, so to speak. They weren’t prepared ahead of time for the topic. Some weren’t aware of the latest tragedies. They sort of got dumped on last night, but in some ways it was absolutely appropriate. We had to address the pain, the reality of death, the elephant in the room. My volunteers were rock stars last night! They listened. Kids shared about the lack of safe places where they could be heard. They shared that there were plenty of people telling them how to feel or saying, “I’m sure you feel like this, and that’s normal, but tomorrow everything will be ok.” There are plenty willing to say, “It’s all going to be ok. This is God’s plan. He’s in a better place.” The list of niceties and platitudes goes on and on. And there are fewer willing to listen – willing to listen to kids who are hurting, confused, angry, pissed off that there friends are gone.
2) Kids are HURTING. A few years ago Chap Clark wrote a book based on his interaction with teens entitled, Hurt. The title of the book gives away the conclusion of his research: Kids are HURTING. There is great sadness, sorrow, depression, anxiety, confusion, and anger in our youth today. Families are in crisis. Loved ones are diagnosed with and dying from cancer. Almost everyone knows a family member or loved one who has gone off to Iraq or Afghanistan. There are many students who have lived through a parent or both parents losing a job and the uncertainty and fear that can accompany that reality. The world is messy. The world is confusing. Kids are hurting. Enough said.
Wrestle with those ideas. Tomorrow I'll post a follow up with some conclusions/suggestions.