A few weeks ago I felt prompted to volunteer to teach during chapel at the high school my daughter attends. This does not seem like that big a deal since I am a public speaker and I used to be a high school teacher, but this is completely and entirely a big deal to me. Although I generally love kids the problem is 1) I love kids who are sweet, smiley and tend to reciprocate my interactions, and 2) I love teenagers one-on-one. I don’t like to look at, walk by or through or even be around large groups of teenagers let alone get up and speak to them.
This morning while attending chapel at my daughter’s school my fears were validated. I observed one young woman looking my way with a very irritated yet somehow completely expressionless gaze. I saw a teacher make a joke to another teenager and the boy barely acknowledged him let alone his attempt at humor. It reminded me of the scene in Ferris Bueller’s day off in the classroom at Ferris’ high school. Disengaged, bored young people looking like they would rather be anywhere than where they presently were or perhaps like they would like to hurt someone. No, that does not seem like an audience I would like to speak in front of Lord, but thank you for asking. But sadly, God is kind of into us being into obeying Him when He calls us so clearly to something, so I offered to teach next year to the scary, intimidating, tall teenagers and I’m afraid. Very afraid.
But today during chapel, I can’t remember exactly what was said or what the context was, but suddenly I looked around and did not see the faces of scary and ginormous teenagers. I did not see an audience of young people I hoped I could relate to and teach something to without them picturing their mom lecturing them. I did not see frightening young men and women rolling their eyes and chewing their gum in that “teenagery” way. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that these are all God’s children; young men and women that Jesus died for. I was flooded with a love for each one of them as if they were my own children. In that moment I wished I could have run home to begin preparing my talk. In that moment I knew teaching those young people would be in complete obedience to what God had been challenging me to do and suddenly, I couldn’t wait.
“Dear God, thank you that when you call us to something, if it is from You, we generally do not sit in fear or dread of that assignment for too long. Thank you that You can supernaturally fill us with love, empathy and give us a tiny glimpse into how you feel about every human being on earth. Thank you that teenagers aren’t as scary when I see them as You do; loved, filled with potential and just desiring to know what direction in life they are supposed to go. Help me to love people like You do; not because they reciprocate “nice” or because I have deemed them worthy or unworthy of my love (and yes, it is embarrassing to realize that that is what I sometimes do). Help me to love out of obedience and then trust that You will equip me to do the rest. Amen.”