Up on our youth area wall in my church, we have quite an assortment of words… descriptions that my precious teens were asked to boldly share about themselves. I had a message I so desperately wanted to teach them, as I set out in my new role as a teen ministry leader. Above all the things I was passionate about, there was a fundamental truth that I wanted to impart on their hearts. Psalm 139 defines that very truth. So I read it to them, and slowly emphasized each and every piece of that love letter from God to each and every one of them.
We discussed at length, how each of their lives is personally gifted to them by their loving Creator, who knitted them together in their mother’s womb. I then asked them to begin an introspective journey, digging deep within their hearts to identify what words define who they are. I encouraged them to add words that were accurate and honest. I knew that perhaps some words they may not like about themselves, others they may feel confident about- I wanted them to claim them all. During these formative years, they begin to solidify their identity and this exercise would reflect where they were in building it. As they scribbled in their notebooks, I talked to them about how each one of them is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I wanted so badly to show them that each and every characteristic they possess, is worthy of God’s Love. This is the time in their lives, where they are searching for answers to who they are, and if they can believe that first and foremost, they are a child of God worthy of His Grace, His Attention, His Love…
Then I feel I will have done my job.
You see, when I was a troubled teen, I didn’t feel worthy at all. Most of my words would have been quite disgusting to me. Many of them would linger in the shadows of shame and cower in the depths of despair. Almost all of them would shrink my disposition to crumbled pieces of uncertainty. I would dramatically deliver my soliloquy with twisted distortions, distraughtly defining who I was.
I was a troubled teen, indeed.
I never felt worthy of God’s Love. I measured my existence by my own standards and the world’s. And this world in which I roamed, wrought with carelessness and confusion, was a frightening place to be. I ached to belong, to be understood, and be loved. My own afflictions were the scale of which I weighed my worth. I was broken in a million places, and tragically thought I wasn’t good enough for anyone’s acceptance, especially from an Almighty God.
Oh, those tumultuous teen years. Aren’t they brutal? It’s so hard to figure out who you are amidst your own circumstances that play out in a world full of messages that confuse and confine and condemn.
I simply needed to be loved, and heard, and despite my reckless and wavering voice, I deserved just that. They do too.
We all do, yes?
There is power in His Love that this world will never have. No matter how lost you feel…you are always found in Him. THAT is what I desperately wanted my teens to know, and believe.
So as I began to create a ministry that was built on the very ground of His Grace quite some time ago, I continue to love my precious kids as God loves them. And as I walk with them through tragic loss, cutting, eating disorders, medical issues, insecurities, depression, anxiety, peer conflicts, suicidal thoughts and attempts, many mistakes, divorced parents, addictions, and brokenness…the greatest hope and comfort I can offer them is God’s unending love for who they are.
I want more than anything, to help them truly understand that the God of the universe is madly in love with them and values their potential. I want them to realize that this Savior I speak of came for them. I want them to take into the very depths of their heart, that this Almighty God has a mighty plan for them. I desperately want them to look at that cross on the wall, surrounded by their words- the very definitions of who they are…
And fall safely into His outstretched arms.
Because while we were sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
The cross covers and carries us all.
Perhaps you would like to add your descriptions on the wall too? I know I would.
By Chris Carter
Wife to Derek, Mom of two
SAHM (Stay at Home Mom)
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Blogger at The Mom Cafe