Between teaching and being a student pastor, you can imagine that I hear and deal with a lot of things. I have been asked several times, fairly recently, the question, “How do you deal with all the pain you see, with all the issues you counsel week in and week out, and all the baggage that comes with being involved in the lives of teenagers today?” To be honest, I don’t always deal with it well. My heart breaks….a lot! I sometimes feel overwhelmed to the point of tears knowing that one or more of my teenagers are hurting, hungry, or just simply beaten down by life. But, I guess the real answer to the question, the answer that gets me through most of the time is that at the end of the day, no matter what I have walked through with a student or what trauma I have talked them through, I KNOW that when its all said and done, I am not in control. At the end of the day, it is out of may hands and in the capable hands of my Lord. I still hurt, I still cry, I still live with a constant burden for this world and my teenagers who try to navigate life through it, but I ultimately must rely on the sovereignty of God to take the load that I could never bear.
Facebook has recently become a collection of open letters to all kinds of issues plaguing the world today. Some are helpful, some are whimsical, and some are outright disturbing. Never being one to back down from the action, I wanted to offer up my open letter- actually a series of small open letters to life. Something very profound hit me today as I sat in a classroom with some of the best and brightest students that the world will soon call its leaders. The thought was so meaningful, so deliberate in coming to me, I knew that God had spoke it, and I knew I had to get it out to the masses. The thought that hit me so hard this afternoon was about life. I tweeted it as soon as it hit me: “Life is a struggle. From the moment you open your eyes, to the last time you close them, you will struggle. The great part is- it’s worth it.” So tonight, I want to write a few small open letters to life and the people that affect it while it affects them……..
Keep fighting. You won’t win them all, but you will win most of them. Life has demanded too much of you. You are now called to be parent, sage, counselor, big brother or sister, sometimes grandparent, voice of reason, disciplinarian, therapist, and on top of all that, you are called to jump through state mandated hoops that do more to impede the education process than help it. You are asked to work late, take work home, go to conferences on your vacations, chaperone other people’s kids at events as if the first 7 hours that day wasn’t enough. Yet, you continue the fight, knowing that “thanks” may never come, but you are in it for the kids, not you. You fight because you realize that if you miss the personal aspect of your job, then you can forget the performance aspect. You fight because you want to produce good people, not just literate people. Keep fighting, you are making a difference.
Dear Single Parent-
Keep fighting. You aren’t alone. Life has demanded too much of you. You are asked to be both mother & father- raising children was meant for 2 people. not just one. You have to work to make ends meet so that little mouths can be fed, little bodies have clothes and a warm jacket in the winter, and so that little hands will have gloves. You are asked to sacrifice times 2- this was never a burden you were meant to bear alone. You work two jobs sometimes, not because you want to, but because you have to. Yet, you are expected to be at home raising your kids, giving baths, going to soccer games and band practice. You fight because they are yours. You fight because there is nothing you won’t do to make sure that though they may not get everything they want, they will always have what they need. You fight in hopes of giving them a life void of the hardships you have had to live. Keep fighting, there is hope.
Keep fighting. You are loved. Life has demanded too much of you. You are constantly asked to become grown ups long before you need to. You are asked to deal with adult sized problems with child-like faith. You are increasingly becoming the spiritual leaders in the house because you are the only one that has accepted Christ. You are hit from every angle with worldly temptation and are expected to meet it with sage-like wisdom and discernment. You often wake up already fighting an uphill struggle as you must filter through the noise of the world telling you that you aren’t good enough, you need to look a certain way, and be a part of certain things. Instead of worrying about what dance is next, you worry about what act of violence is next. You have been asked to get an education, become responsible and productive citizens, and you are to accomplish this while working and helping with the bills. You fight because you want something more. You fight because you want to join the cause in making a difference for the next generation. You fight, because the alternative in not an option. Keep fighting, you are loved.
Keep fighting. No, really, go ahead and keep fighting. Keep knocking us down. Keep telling us that we aren’t good enough. Keep telling us that we are alone, that no one loves us, that we can’t make a difference. I know why you do it. I know why you can’t help yourself but to attack and kick us while we are down. You’re scared! You see, every worldly pleasure, every disgusting little sin is because we are born into a life of sin and you are banking on that sin to be enough to keep us down. You fight because you think you can manipulate us. You fight because you think we are weak. You fight because you think you can win, but you’re wrong. You see, we know the TRUTH. God loved us so much that He offered up His only Son, who WILLINGLY took our place on a cross so that we can be washed white as snow- a new creation. That’s right life, our debt is PAID IN FULL! You are right, we can’t handle this on our own, but what you don’t consider is the fact that we were NEVER alone. God has walked through these valleys with us every step of the way. He has shielded us from the overwhelming, He has steered us away from your darkest pits, and He has carried us with His righteous right hand through the worst parts of life. We are still here. We fight because through Christ we have hope. We fight because we have the free gift of salvation and forgiveness. We fight because God’s word reminds us that even though you may win a few battles, we win the war. Go ahead and hit us with your best shot. Send your depression, your cancer, your trials, your mountains to climb, and your valleys to walk through. You are no longer welcome to freely terrorize our lives. God offers a hope and a peace that you can’t touch. So keep fighting- you WILL LOSE, the Bible tells me so.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach