I have been doing this youth ministry thing for a good chunk of time now. I started in the later half of 2009 and with little exception, have been doing it ever since. I consider it strange that I have stuck with it, because as the story goes—I could not stand kids for the longest time. On the scale of annoying creatures, they ranked just above gnats and chihuahuas. Those little yips. *shudder*
In the years since, my opinion has changed. While some remain annoying—I can hear some parents saying “Preach!” right about now—I now embrace the awkward annoying qualities they possess. I honestly enjoy spending time with them, talking to them, learning from them. I choose to do it because I know what it is like to be misunderstood. I know what it is like to feel as if the world chooses against you. Simply put, I know how it feels to be a middle-schooler and teenager. A misfit.
I hear the stories. I see the pain. I feel the anguish when my heart breaks for them.
I try my best to help. I try to offer words of encouragement. I try to be a glimpse of light in the midst of their darkness. I try to be who I needed when I was their age.
Sometimes, though, in the moment only so many words get through. They sift through and filter the verbal barrage until they find what they are looking for. Sometimes, words just never seem to get through no matter how hard you try. It is hard to speak up against the noise the world makes.
Please allow me to take a moment and simplify my words. I want to speak plainly so that you may understand the full meaning and measure of these words. Please, just pay attention.
Bombed a test? Didn’t make the team? Got dumped? You matter.
Parents fighting? Getting divorced? You matter.
Walk the hallways at school feeling invisible? Sit alone at lunch? You matter.
Think you are… fat? ugly? stupid? dumb? worthless? You matter.
Every single time the world tries to tell you that it doesn’t need you… You matter.
I know what it is like. I have been there myself, and some days, I find myself there still. Drown out the noise. Listen to truth.
“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
– Matthew 10:28-31 MSG
Do you know how many hairs are on your head right now? I know I don’t. But God does. Why? Because you matter to Him.
You matter to me, too.