I had no idea that was going on behind the surface.
Most of us are too afraid to actually be vulnerable with one another, but on this night over 60 high school students decided to let their guard down and be real.
We know developmentally that high school students are right in the middle of searching for identity and figuring out who they are. We know that their brains are not fully developed in the area of decision making. So, of course, we expect the teenage years to bring moments of trouble, hurt, mistakes, high highs and low lows.
It’s part of adolescence. It’s part of growing up.
That night we asked the high school students to trace their hand on a sheet of paper and write one thing they needed help (anonymously) with on the open palm of their hand. We then taped these hands to the wall and they went around and prayed for each other.
As I moved around the room, I realized that there is more going on than you think.
These are put together, physically fit, intelligent, social — the type of kids you’d expect to be on top of the world. But beneath the surface they are all hurting in very real ways.
Parents, my encouragement to you today is to take a moment in the coming week and look your son or daughter in the eyes and speak life into them. Speak over them words of identity. Speak over them words of what you see in them. Speak over them the joy it is to know them.
I encourage you to give them space to share what’s going on. Look them in the eyes, with your full attention, and ask them how they are doing. Don’t dismiss what they share as trivial (even if it is!), because your attention and reaction on the small things will open the door for more vulnerability in the future.
You have more influence than you think!
This part of growing up — so don’t be surprised by it, but don’t let it pass by. There is an opportunity to shape the heart, mind, soul, and future of your child.
If you were to stop right now and write down some words of identity or significance for your child, what would they be?
Now make a plan to share it! Speak life. As I learned that night, they are desperate for it even if they hide it really well.
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Here’s a related post for further reflection – Speak Up! You Might Change Their Life.