When I found out that the topic for this particular article was “What are junior highers struggling with the most?” I quickly became a little overwhelmed. I can’t remember a time we’ve ventured into something as deep as what junior highers are struggling with the most! The thoughts that went through my head were:
- “I don’t have the time to write something that serious!”
- “All Andy has to do is come up with the topic…I’m the one who has to write about it!”
- “Where would I possibly begin?”
- “How can I narrow down all the struggles facing today’s young teens and come up with one I would consider the biggest?”
So I decided to do something totally scientific: Close my eyes to see what popped into my head first. Whatever popped into my head first would be the subject of this article. “Gosh, I’m super-hungry” was the first thought, so I decided to try again.
The word that came to mind was abandonment. When you stop to think about it, so many of the struggles facing young teens are made more intense or the direct result of the issue of abandonment. When parents divorce, there is a sense of abandonment. When dad is a workaholic, there is a sense of abandonment. When there is abuse, there is a sense of abandonment. When they don’t feel like a valued part of their family, their church, their circle of friends etc., there is a sense of abandonment.
My gut, “close my eyes and see what pops into my head” feeling is that a frighteningly large segment of the students we are ministering to feel abandoned, which serves as fuel to so many of the struggles they naturally face.
“God, may our ministries be a place that surrounds students with love and acceptance. May they feel a sense of value and belonging in our youth groups. Give us the wisdom we need to help parents understand the precious and fragile gift you have given them in their children.” Amen.