As much as I despise driving, it was actually refreshing to travel through small towns where life seems so much simpler than life in a big city. I was constantly tempted to pull over to take pictures of perfectly lined trees in pecan orchards, people sitting on benches in quaint little town squares or the elderly gentleman sitting on his tractor at the edge of his yard waving at every passing car.
There’s also something fulfilling about speaking to students in small towns who attend schools that may not have the resources of schools in larger cities. You can almost see the hunger on the students’ faces. In most of the schools I visited last week, the students were so attentive that you would have thought I had honey dripping from my lips. It was as if they were hearing things they had never heard before, and they were eating it up.
Though I shouldn’t have been surprised, last week I became painfully aware of the fact that many young people don’t have a positive adult in their lives to share their problems with. Not only were they totally engaged during the assembly, even when I spoke to the long line of students who waited to speak with me one-on-one after the assemblies; they didn’t want me to stop talking. Most adults are shocked when I tell them students are starving for adult guidance.
I received the following message on Instagram from a young man who had attended one of the assemblies:
You were amazing! I wanted to speak with you after your talk but was so nervous. I felt like if I poured my heart out to someone that a burden would be lifted. I didn’t get that chance, but I’m glad I got to hear your talk. You have really inspired me! Thank you!
How sad that this young man is carrying around a burden unnecessarily because he has no one to pour his heart out to.
After one assembly an 8th grade girl confided in me that her biological father had been raping her since she was 11 years old. I asked when it had last occurred and she said, “Last week!” When I asked if she had ever told anyone about it, she said she had told her mother but her mother didn’t believe her. I immediately told the Assistant Principal who took the young lady to file a report. I can’t imagine being a child who has been betrayed by both of the people who are supposed to protect you. The entire week was worth it just for this young lady to be rescued from her years of sexual abuse.
I often hear adults complain about the “out-of-control behavior” of youth today. After hearing stories and reading letters from students around the state last week, I’m surprised the behavior that we see from teens is not worse than it is. Many of them are dealing with some horrific situations at home. They are often “acting out” and making poor decisions to try to escape their realities at home. My goals are to help them first realize that their poor choices are in many cases simply creating a worse reality and second learn healthy ways to deal with their current realities.
In order to end this post on a positive note, I’ll share an email that I received from a principal at one of the high schools where I spoke last week:
I have gotten nothing but positive feedback from both groups of my students. Your visit was not by happenstance. God knew that there was fertile ground that needed cultivating, and He sent you.
I too sensed all week that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and speaking to exactly who God wanted to hear my message. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so strongly about a “divine assignment” when speaking, as I did last week. I am humbled that God would choose me for this assignment and I do not take it for granted.
Will you commit to not only pray for this generation of youth, but also find a way to somehow be involved in their lives? It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just let them know that you care about them so they will feel comfortable coming to you for guidance with their good, bad and ugly when needed. It will pay eternal dividends.