about re-writing a dominant narrative

One of my primary responsibilities with my new work at Teen Lifeline is to run counseling groups in various settings for teenagers in crisis, or for those who just want to talk. I have thoroughly enjoyed my opportunities to spend with teenagers on their turf – a place that I consider to be hallowed ground and a privilege to be welcomed. Sometimes it is easy to take for granted that I am allowed to spend time talking frankly with teenagers about their great hurts and fears.

I haven’t done this very long, but a common narrative has emerged during conversations that range from purposed reflection to off-handed remarks as we joke around. While I know I am not breaking any ground when I share these thoughts, I feel it important to remind each one of us who have been given the gift of family.

Because so many of the teenagers I have spoken to over the last few days sing the same song of hurt and disappointment, even if they don’t always realize where the source of the pain dwells.

You hear the same story in the voice of the young man who reflects how special it was to finally have an older man give him the affirming words his dad never spoke to him.

This narrative rings true to the young lady whose parents tell her she is stupid and worthless.

The song resounds with the young man who feels like his family abandoned him so he turned to the streets for the same.

This common narrative screams a truth so often neglected and marginalized:

Brothers and sisters, listen to me. Family is so, so important.

With a crazy week, I don’t have a ton of time to write, so I will make this simple:

Please, find a way to love and affirm your children today. And, if you have spare time floating around find another child or teenager in your purview and do the same. We so often forget and even neglect how important our voice is for a child or teenager.

If we could just realize the power of our influence as parents, we would make a tremendous impact on the lives of our children.

One of the core principals at Sacred Margins is relationships with God and people . If we were to take that seriously, we could invest in relationships with the most vulnerable: the children and teenagers in our scope of influence.

So today, please find some way to affirm and love on your child in a unique way. Be creative. Find some way to speak the truth of their value in this world in God’s eyes and your own.

Let’s start re-writing this broken narrative.

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3 thoughts on “about re-writing a dominant narrative

  1. Such a truth. We also need to remember that, even though we may have spoken hurtful and harmful words, God can heal us and the ones we love/hurt. We may never restore a relationship, but God’s love can heal the wounded heart. Today, make it a priority to speak love into the life of a child (or an adult, for that matter) and, if you need to apologize, ask for forgiveness and healing, do that NOW. Don’t let another day go by. Love you!

  2. Oh boy. I’m getting to live this out in a very real, painful, frustrating way right now as I raise a teen who was raised by someone else for the first 17 years of his life. It takes a LONG time for kids like him to even accept that they have value and that you could possibly love and affirm them with no strings attached. I’m choked up as I think about the impact every adult could make in the life of a teen if they would just speak the words out loud. Great post, Chris!

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