Sometimes, I ask for a rain check. Sometimes, I drive to the High School just to turn around in the parking lot and go home. Sometimes, I’m not ready to hear another heart wrenching story. Sometimes, I need to tell my story first.
I’ve been a Youth Worker for two years now, and one lesson my mentor and supervisor has taught me is that before going into any contact with teens, you have to first be ok with God, and be ok with your spouse, and ok with the world. Only from a place of peace in all those areas will you be a good listener, have wise words to say, and be able love like how God loves.
So yes sometimes I ask for a rain check, sometimes I drive home. But always when talking with a teen, I talk from a place of love. This is not a selfish act, it is because I love them enough to try to be there for them in the long haul. To be here for many many years to come. To be here for their younger siblings when they come up thru the high school, to be a loving presence in their lives. To be stable. To be consistent. So that they know that every time they hang out with Carmen, that they will get a good loving listener.
So sometimes I stay home and do that paperwork that’s been piling up.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Initiation into womanhood. In a tribe in the Amazon they tattoo girl’s faces when they hit puberty. If the girl cries out or makes any noise at all during the 3 day process she is shamed and disowned from the tribe. There have been many different initiations for both boys and girls in history in different places. Here in our culture, in our time we do not traditionally have any initiation rite of passage for our young people to go through to join the world of adults. This may be the reason to blame for adolescence extending into people’s 20’s. Yes, the age of a teenager today is 10 years old up until 24 years old. We start young and don’t know how to get out of this strange phase of life.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Everyone was dealt a hand of cards when they were born. These determine family, health, wealth, safety, education opportunities, , childhood... all the parts of life that attribute to shaping you in your early years while you are innocent. You can not control these cards, they are just the ones you have.
I was dealt an amazing hand. I have fantastic parents who love me and love each other. I was taught at a young age how to trust God. The first time I had to deal with death in my life didn’t happen until I was 15, and by that time I knew how to deal with it and had a support group of friends and family there for me. I was always healthy except for one month long stint in the hospital when I was 10 for a broken leg. I grew up in Canada so I never had to wonder if a drought would come and kill us all for lack of food or water. I had free education. An amazing hand.
Many of the teens I work with were not so lucky in their cards. Many were dealt cards of sickness, poverty, alcoholic or abusive parents, stalkers, rape, suicide of close ones, violence, depression, mental illness, FAS, trauma, and a general lack of safety and innocence at a young age. Not so lucky.
So is that what it comes down to? To luck? Either you are born into a good life or you are not? I hope not. Actually I can do better then that, I know better then that. I happen to know that life is bigger then that, that there is actually more to life then that.
I met someone there other day, (yes yes, I was talking to strangers again) and she ended up telling me her life story. She grew up in a hostile environment and by age 13 was in a physically, emotionally and sexually abusive relationship with a man. She had three family members commit suicide in one year. (“The domino effect” is what we call that, and it is quite common and a nightmare for all youth workers) Today she is in her 40’s she is happy, has a wonderful husband and three beautiful children. She is passionate about youth work and is setting me up with people she thinks will be interested in supporting my work because a youth worker is why she is where she is today.
I have seen those who were dealt bad cards become inspirational fulfilled happy people. I don’t wish trauma on anyone, but I do have hope for those who have had their fill of it. This is an area of life that I have been personally struggling with over the past six months, and I do not yet have any conclusive ideas about luck and justice and God’s predestination, but I am working it over in my mind and heart a lot. Maybe life is bigger then the cards you have been dealt, but maybe it is actually that simple at the same time? In the words of Forest Gump “S!*t happens.” ??
Have any thoughts on the subject? Feel free to comment and share your heart on the matter, I would love to hear it.