Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. –1 Peter 3:3-4
Reality verses illusion
The world with its pretty packages
All tied up with bows
Begging to be sought after
Perfection and nothing more
Destruction in its path
Concerned not for the wake it leaves behind
Nothing but objects
A mirror telling us who we should be
Yelling we are not good enough
Shouting that we don’t belong
Magazines scream perfection
Dictating the norm
Does it really exist
Who decides what beauty really is
The world and it’s illusions ravage
But no more
Stand up and revel in the real you
The beautiful person who has always been
As I sit at home tonight I am blessed to be able to enjoy the company of several teenage girls. God has richly blessed me indeed for I am actually cool to them! Who knew? My son doesn’t always see me as cool, though I may get lucky once and a while, but these bright, beautiful young ladies think I am pretty cool, and thus I enjoy the opportunity to hear their stories, their struggles and their battles with the ever increasing challenge to fit in. We have all been there at some point in our lives, but it all seems so much deeper, so much more hard hitting than when I was enduring it.
I am pained by what I hear…stories I cannot share for they are a part of their private world, but their struggles are not isolated instances. Oh no, the students I teach, the young teens at my church, teen children of friends and family….their struggle is the same. The desire to be wanted and accepted leads to so much pain and agony as they come to the realization that unless they change in some way, they will never fit in, never be popular, never be all they think they need to be in this teen angst stage life. God has indeed created us with a desire to commune, to be in relationships with others. That is how we learn the most valuable lessons and skills in life. We learn patience, we learn how to love and how to accept love, and we learn how to let go and move on. But what if you don’t “fit in”? What if you feel rejected and are ridiculed, picked on, hit or beat up, and constantly told in some way shape or form that you are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, athletic enough to fit in?
Sadly, the result is not a bright one. A teens mind is not filled with years of wisdom and knowledge, but is based on limited knowledge and understanding surrounded with such raw emotion that it is overwhelming. They become anorexic or bulimic to transform into what they think the world views as beautiful. They use steroids to beef up and diuretics to throw up. They slice their arms or legs to get rid of the pain of being rejected leaving more scars that remind them of how often they are left out. They bring guns to school to inflict harm on those who tease and ridicule them, selfishly killing out of pain and anger. They end their own lives in the last ditch effort to be free from the desperate struggle to fit in. For what?! All this to prove to someone else that they are worthy to be accepted, worthy to be loved by another! I am sickened by the lack of compassion our world has these days! The amount of education without heart that exists in our schools is unbelievable. The distance between parent and chid is ever widening, which saddens my heart. The influence of the perfectionist views so blatantly placed before us day in and day out as we watch television, read magazines, and surf the web is outrageous! I stand amazed that someone, somewhere has the ability to tell us what is wrong with us…to tell our kids that they aren’t good enough, that they don’t belong, and they aren’t normal? Who decides what normal is anyway?!?
So long as we are human, we will desire to belong. God created us to belong, but we look for it in all the wrong places. There is only one place we truly belong, one place we can teach our children, and the teens who think we are cool, to run to when this world rejects them….the arms of God! He knows these teens, knows how beautiful they are, how valuable their worth truly is. Are you showing your teen, or the teens that you have an influence on, who God is? Are you equipping them with a fortress to run to when the world attacks them? Are you taking them to the foot of the cross so that they can understand how much they are loved? Are you filling their hearts with scripture so they can combat the lies that Satan throws at them? If not my friends, than you are setting them up to fall. For when the darkness grows, and it will, they need to know how to find the light!
I pray that we are teaching our teens who God is and reaching out to them to mentor, to teach, to love, and to accept them just as they are, right where they are in that moment. I pray that we offer them grace when they fall and that we extend forgiveness freely with love. May you indeed be the light in the life of a struggling teen. God bless!