I think I might be one of the only people in the world willing to admit this, but I love teenagers. When people find out I worked at a high school for a year, they say things like "are you crazy?" or "you're brave" or "I could never do that".
Uh, why not? Have you ever talked to a teenager? I mean really talked to a teenager? Because they are pretty introspective little boogers.
Yeah, sure, they can be snotty. They can be disrespectful. But first of all, who can't? I know people twice by age who can be just as snotty. But secondly, I think I know why. There's a ton of pressure on them. They are striving to be THE BEST at school, sports, music, etc. They want so desperately to be loved, to be acknowledged, that they practically kill themselves trying to be perfect. And with all that pressure getting to someone, they are going to crack, they are going to be rude.
Besides the fact, they are still kids. I know that's not an excuse...but think about it. Were you the most grateful person in the world when you were 14? I'm going to go and ahead and guess- no.
Teenagers have this very unique view on the world. They are young enough to still be amazed by things, but old enough to grasp understanding of the way the world works.
I worry about teenagers. I worry that they feel so angry and anxious that they turn to drugs or alcohol or become a bully. We all know that's not the right way of dealing with things, but sometimes, they don't. It's our job to teach them by example. It's our job to not give up on them. They can sense when we're giving up, and they will give up too. With no hesitation.
I get so frustrated with the teens in youth group when they won't put their cell phones away or when they can't stop talking for ONE SECOND to listen to instructions. So frustrated that I almost left youth group once and didn't come back. But see, that would be giving up. So I go. I listen. I observe. And the things I see and hear are pretty amazing. I see the way they stand up for one another, I see when something we're discussing hits home. I see when something clicks, I see when they are deciding whether or not they are brave enough to speak in front of the group. And I see their relief after they do speak. I see their genuine excitement when a friend walks in, and I see their hearts sink when someone walks in they are having conflict with. And you know what? I love those kids. I'm proud of them. I am so happy that I can see them be witness' to Christ's love.
So to anyone who "hates" teenagers, I challenge you this week to talk to one. Ask them questions. Ask them how they feel about issues affecting our world, ask them their hopes for the future. And then remind them that you are cheering for them.
And to all the teenagers reading this, I juts ask you one thing: Treat people (yourselves included) with respect. No ifs ands or buts. People won't remember the time you scored 4 goals in soccer or your part in the school's musical or whether or not you got an A on that French quiz, but they will remember how you treated them. So treat them right. And treat yourselves right.