My heart started to break and I held back tears as I watched those sweet little hands write “Ugly, unloved, not smart enough, depressed, alone…” It was the first Sunday of the new Teen class the Lord had laid on my heart to start in our small country church. I introduced myself and told these young women that I started this class because I had a rough time in Junior High. I had a bad self image at that age and I know all too well how that can carry into, and affect you as an adult. I went on to explain how I have a burden to show this forgotten generation that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I hope they saw my genuine love for them, that’s key to healing. Step 1? Show them that you genuinely care. Kids are perceptive and will spot a program over passion a mile off. And then? I asked them to write down words on 3×5 cards that they feel describes them and those they are attending school with. The answers in all cases were almost identical… and so disturbingly sad. I was told that most of their friends are depressed and on meds for it. Depression, fear and anxiety have become the norm for school aged children. Parents like having a label to slap on it and a pill to throw at it. My friends? This was not God’s design. He never intended for our children to live with fear and depression.
The next question for the class – Write down on 3×5 cards words that describe how you think God sees you. His word says you were worth dying for… so how does he see you? The cards that followed had words like “Loved, beautiful, forgiven, talented…” I asked the class, “What makes you think that the lies the enemy wants you to believe – that you are not smart enough, pretty enough or talented enough deserve more weight than what God says about you?? He says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That he knew you in your mother’s womb. That you are his sons and daughters.” I watched them ponder, and small smiles form on their sweet faces.
Their assignment for the week? Take those words that God says about us and tape them to the bathroom mirror. Every morning say out loud “I am loved. I am talented. I am smart enough. I am beautiful. I am not alone.” You see? Once you speak it out loud it goes out your mouth, into your ears and it starts to restructure your thinking. It gradually wipes out the lies that try to vie for a stronghold in the battlefield of our minds.
I ended with this question… “How do you think your life would change if you started to see yourself like God sees you?” They smiled as they said “Not so depressed. Unafraid to talk to my family. Bolder in my faith.”
I left them with these 4 questions to write in their journal and answer: What do I want? What do I need? What do I think? Who I am. I’m hoping the answers to those 4 thought-provoking questions are drastically different at the end of 6 weeks, 12 weeks and a year from now.
Children are suffering and the parents likely don’t even know it. They are quiet in their rooms, not acting out, so surely they are OK? No, they are not. They are feeling isolated and alone. There is no longer family dinners around the table where everyone shares in their day. Children are being raised in single parent households where the parent is exhausted and struggling themselves so they hand the kids an electronic device to babysit them. Exhausted parents yell at the student who gets straight A’s and happened to bring home a B. The child can’t see they are exceptionally smart and just struggled a bit in one class. Instead? They hear “You are not Smart enough.” (Ironically enough? There are some moms out there who need to do the same exercise I asked of the teens. I was 46 years old and taping “You are Loved. You are a good mother. You are beautiful.” to my bathroom mirror as I started my journey to freedom… we have to understand who we are in Christ – our true identity – to be able to help our children discover theirs.)
Healing has to start in the home. Make it a point this week to tell your child that they are beautiful, handsome, smart and loved. Ask them about their day. Ask them about their dreams and hopes and goals. Be engaged.
I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14