As I have said previously (and in my About page), I have worked in youth ministry for over 20 years. One of the hardest things I had to learn was to not judge a book by it’s cover, but instead, assume the worst and expect the best. I would love to tell you that that mindset has left me without disappointment, but that would be a terrible lie.
After all, we are talking about teenagers.
However, for the most part, that tends to happen infrequently. Oddly enough, it tends to be just the opposite that takes place. I will see this kid, you know the type, they tend to be the ones that stick to themselves, shy away from the crowd, is so offbeat that the drummer they listen too is in a different time zone, and something inside of me just wants to walk over and reach out to them.
Sure, he is wearing more mascara then my wife. Ok, she has a foxtail hanging from her bag and cat ears on her head. Fine, that noise coming from their earbuds is more akin to a fight my parents use to have then music. Great, you can prove me wrong on just about anything we talk about because you are a walking Wikipedia (see, I said wikipedia instead of encyclopedia… GO Team Relevant!)
But inside that kid, I see someone who just wants to be seen. Someone who the rest of the world would just pass off as different, odd, weird, or a dork. Dorks are kind of my specialty (guess being one really helps with that).
I’ll start a conversation with them, noticing the minutiae of their appearance, finding some common ground to build a bridge to their island fortress. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, and the truth is it tends to always be messy, because, as I said before, we are dealing with teenagers.
I call it the trench warfare.
And while I do not always see the end result of the work that I do because they move away, they go off to college, or they just move on with their life, the time I have had with them and watched them go from struggling through their teenage years and successfully become an adult is something I don’t think will ever grow old.
Because, in the end.. it does really matter.
So, if ever you need me, you will know where to find me…
Fighting the good fight…
In the trenches.