Widening Their Reality

Originally published March 2000.

Isn’t it amazing how today’s youth handle the dark parts of life and the pain that follows?  I’m constantly amazed with the youth I work with who are suburban living with urban problems. Some of you are so blessed to be working with youth who have a hungry heart after God.  Or you have youth with good, two-parent families that have provided a healthy foundation for you to water on.  God has given me a group of teens to raise who are not that.  My kids live in abnormal situations and see them as normal.  Where is my ministry starting point when what is normal is not “mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet?”  When normal to them shows no sign of even a TV sitcom family?  When there are no clear lines of right and wrong?  It’s only normal and better.

Recently two of my boys found themselves over their heads in murder.  One hitched a ride to the mall with some guys he grew up with.  Sinners and thugs to the rest of the population.  On the way to the mall they decided to pull into another neighborhood to buy some weed.  The drug deal went bad and the dealer was shot dead.  Just like that.

The Wonder of Learning

Originally published December 2006.

We don’t do assigned seating in youth group.  We do unspoken assigned seating in church-an oddity we adults are willing to accept.  But in school, our students are often subjected to assigned seating.  So when I substitute teach, it never fails to have someone, or more often many, students ask me if they can switch their seats just for the day.  I can repeat their whines verbatim, “I’ll be really good today, Mrs. Seefeldt.”  “Mrs. Seefeldt, I just can’t sit here.  You don’t understand.”  “Mrs. So-So moved me to this spot yesterday.  Honest.”  “She’s lonely over there, Mrs. Seefeldt.”  (But the one who is supposedly lonely is not the one asking.)

Typical for adolescence, teens want to push their boundaries and as their sub I’m the new boundary keeper so they always push.  Always.  But I’m unmovable.  After 15 years of substitute teaching, I know the reason for assigned seats.

Rites of Passage

Originally published July 2001.

Another prom and graduation season has been survived (with as few lives lost as possible, I hope).

There was a time when these were significant rites of passages signaling a teen’s entrance into adulthood.  Prom was a chance to dress up in adult clothes and promenade with a date.  Graduation was a ceremony to honor the completion of the child part of one’s education.  These were rites of passages given by adults to recognize the emerging adult.

However, we have somehow turned over these rites to the peer culture.  Prom has turned into all kinds of other “adult” behaviors away from the presence of adults such as drinking, reckless use of vehicles and sex.  While graduation still involves the family, right after the actual ceremony the new graduate takes off with his/her fellow new graduates to celebrate minus the adults again in the same reckless “adult” ways.  Then they take off for beach week or whatever week is in your area to live like they see on MTV’s Spring Break, only they have to live with the results.