Voices Too Quiet?

keep-silence
So who knew that my feelings about HIMYM would be of any interest to other people? My frustration with the finale didn’t just come out of nowhere. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have an 8th grade confirmation class I help with and working with the girls in the class has a particular set of challenges. Having honest conversations with the girls about themselves, their self-worth and their relationships – not a walk in the park. How they value themselves, how they enter into and live out their relationships sometimes feels like increasingly uneasy ground.

This could fall under the Confirmation Project, but it also strikes me as a wider conversation on what we teach young people about how God loves them and created them so wonderfully and beautifully – and how difficult it is to hear that message. Talking with the girls about relationships a few weeks ago was startling. They wrote down all the words they hated to be called: bitch, whore, slut, etc. What startled me the most was not necessarily the words – those I expected. I was startled at their nonchalance toward how they use the words among one another. They are called these things by their friends – and it’s no big deal (I might have to write another post on my desire to ban the phrase ‘no big deal’). One girl even shared that her mother told her she dressed like a slut no matter what she wore. It is difficult to convince the young girls that were found drunk and making out in an alley near the church that they deserve so much more than that when what they hear from their friends – and even their families- is that they are sluts and whores. Sounds like a pretty big deal to me.

I want to beg them to look at what God says about them. I want to say “Go look at Genesis! God created humankind, created you and said you were good. Go see in Jeremiah – God has known and loved you before you were born, before you were conceived! You are made for a wonderful and beautiful purpose!” I so want them to hear it, to know it deep in their hearts. I want them to see how beautifully worthy they are – and to see and encourage that in their peers and every person they meet. I can say it over and over and over – but there are so many voices louder than mine. The voices of their friends, their families, the fictional and real people they see in the media, the voices that cry out over the social medias where they live so much of their lives. My voice goes up against parents who prioritize hockey practice over faith formation. We have them for so short a time on Sundays and it seems as if it’s never enough.

I didn’t always make the most ideal choices during my adolescence. If I went back in time I would certainly do some things differently. But I learned from my mistakes (I think) and I can’t keep these young people from making and learning from their own.  It somehow seems so much harder for them than it was for me only ten or so years ago. I know in my heart that God is so much greater than all the stupid cultural messages that these young people absorb. I know God’s love can do anything. I also know that right now it is probably working through me (I hope) and I don’t feel so great or strong. I feel like the fight is uphill and I am stuck at a standstill. I’ll keep speaking up and making sure they hear my voice, hearing how wonderful and beautiful and amazing they are and how much they have to give the world. Even if it’s the only one they ever hear.

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