You’ve seen them. Teens wandering the streets, sitting on a curb, anger or sadness all over their faces. I have always loved kids, however, the “troubled teens” were the ones I would judge and look away from. Those tattoos, those piercings, wearing all black, etc. That was before I began serving in ministry to the hurting in our community and beyond.
I led “The Big D…Divorce Thru the Eyes of a Teen”, written by Krista Smith,(www.sonsetpointministries.com) for over three years and when I heard the turmoil they were living in their homes, my heart began to turn. I heard stories of yelling, screaming, beatings, rape, incest, DHS involvement, police involvement, parents in jail, neglect, abandonment and on and on. My heart broke for these kids. Yes, some of them had gotten involved in drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, stealing, etc., but now I could understand why. They were trying to do anything to deaden the pain they felt 24/7.
I remember hearing kids say they stole because their parents had no food in the house and they were hungry. They endured incest because they didn’t want to be “sent away”. The teen girl who is scantily clothed is usually one who believes she is “only good for one thing” because of the sexual abuse at home. I began to see the “whys behind the whats” of their behavior. Believe me, I have shed endless tears over the broken hearts of teens!
Most teens want to be accepted by their peers and to also feel loved by their families, but in homes shattered by divorce, abuse, drugs, alcohol and anger, they can’t experience that. What they will usually do is find other kids who hurt as much as they do and then that group of kids become a sort of “family.” We may call them “gangs.”
Just like small children, they desperately need a “heart connection”, as Linda Jacobs (author of “Divorce Care For Kids”) puts it. They need someone to accept and love them, listen to them; someone they can trust and depend on. If that can’t be their parent, then we, in the church, can become a heart connection for them, as we extend the arms of Jesus to them.
“Suffer the little children to come unto Me”, is something that Jesus said in His Word and now, we can implement that today with the hurting and devastated kids around us. Krista Smith will be my guest on the “Chained No More” internet radio show on Tuesday, May 19 at 2pm EST at www.toginet.com You can listen LIVE or download the podcast later that day at www.toginet.com/shows/chainednomore. Her topic? “Divorce: Parenting and Helping Teens” Believe me, she knows what she’s talking about!
Please ask the Lord to take the blinders off of you to these kids. They did absolutely nothing to be put into families of such devastation and they need our help! Get involved in your church youth group somehow, whether it is supporting that group in prayer, finances, or maybe volunteering in their events. They need us and they need us to extend the arms of Jesus to them so the next generation can be healthier and stronger.
If you are a parent or grandparent, take the time to fully listen to your teen. Put down all screens and focus on what is in their heart. Speak much less than they do. You just might learn something. GRIN
Troubled teens? You bet! What can you do beginning today? Ask the Lord to show you.