A few months back I was deeply impacted by a girl who spoke as part of a mixed-age women’s gathering. She candidly shared some of the hardships of teen life, and emphasised the need for strong role models. With tears she spoke five words I’ll never forget:
“Please… Be brave for us.”
She represented a community of youth who desperately needed strength and resilience modelled to them. A tribe of girls who wanted to know what bravery looked like as they faced uncertain futures.
Her words made me consider how I could better love those in my care. How I could show what a courageous life lived for God looked like.
And tonight I read this article by Jackie Knapp about the reality of suffering in the ‘best years of our life’ – and the importance of hearing our ‘elders’ talk about it.
“We… need to hear from the older generations, how they have faced hard things and fought for faith. We need their perspective, their wisdom, their words spoken into our lives. We want to hear more from our pastors and leaders about how they move though struggles.
We wish the church were more honest, that we didn’t feel alone there in our addictions and sin and heartbreak, that we could walk in and be real. Most of us don’t care all that much about the music style and building aesthetics. We long for transparent relationships with people who are willing to enter our mess and point us to Jesus.
[We need] to teach them that even the ‘best’ years of their lives will include heartache and pain. We want them to have all the excitable idealism of being young, but we want that enthusiasm to be met with wisdom and tempered with reality. Most of all, we want to tell them of all the good we found along the way, how we learned to live again – and how we look to our next decades with hope that God is making something new out of our crushed expectations.”
…Have you considered sharing your “crushed expectations” with someone younger than you?
Youth need ‘real talk’ as much as anyone. Let’s cheer them on – be brave for them… And part of that bravery involves sharing honestly our own disappointments, heartbreaks, failures and triumphs.
God blessed me with a number of wise role models in my youth. They rejoiced in my successes, held me close in my hearbreak, and pointed me towards a God who loved me more than they. I remember the tears and the nurturing well. They didn’t pretend that life got better – but they gave me hope that I’d become better at working things out.
I want to be a role model like that.
And I want to be brave – not just for them, but for me.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)