Years ago, I taught preschool…..babies to be exact. I loved it, they stayed where I put them, they didn’t talk back, they listened intently when I would read the Bible to them, and I never had a problem with counseling them. 😉

So when I felt God leading me to teach teenagers instead, I seriously thought I had gotten it wrong. Somewhere along the lines, I misinterpreted what God was saying. So I ignored it and let it go.

Can I just say, when God calls you, He isn’t going to be ignored. He’s not. He continued to call, continued to put things on my heart, and one day……I was teaching Youth.

They do talk back. They don’t do what you tell them. And they most certainly sin. It’s an insanely hard job and one I treasure. I love those girls….. the good ones, the rotten ones, the ones we wish we could tie up and stick in a closet for a few years. I especially love the ‘forgotten’ ones. The ones that are overlooked, undervalued, and under appreciated.

They live a life full of turmoil. Everything is drama. They live a life upside down with hormones and emotions. They are seeking independence and security. Home can be difficult, school can be worse, and sometimes the only refuge they have is church…..if they ever make it there. Church is only once a week if I am lucky to get them there at all.

I have a burden for them. My heart breaks for them. I want to show them the love of Christ, I want to teach them the daily living of Christianity, I want to teach them there’s so much more to life than ourselves. It’s different when you are genuinely burdened for them.

It’s a pretty thankless job. There’s no Youth worker day. There’s no ‘Buy-your-camp-counselor-an-ice-cream-sundae-because-you’re-so-happy-they-showed-you-the-love-of-God’ day. By the time the teenagers appreciate the ones that helped bring them through the horrible teen years, I’ll be old and gray…..and probably senile. Just show me where I laid my teeth….

I don’t care where you’ve been or how long you’ve been there. I don’t care about your socio-economic background. I don’t care about your social status at school. I don’t care if you are the next Billy Graham or Billie Holiday, I only care that your life reflects Christ. And if you turn into Billy the Kid instead, I’ll love you anyway…….and I’ll visit you in jail. I don’t care if you are popular, bi-polar, or whether you are the captian of the football team or the chess club, I care about your life reflecting Christ.

Lots of times I’m tired and I wonder why I do this, but then I get the text or the message from someone I’ve counseled and I’m reminded of why I do this. I don’t do this because I’m beautiful and the kids will be enamored with my beauty. I don’t do this because I was the popular kid in school and it will elevate me to demi-god in their eyes because I’m so awesome. I don’t do this because I’m some theological genius and they will be WOWed with my knowledge. And I don’t do this because I’m fresh out of high school myself and they can relate to me so much better. I am not just another adult in there to play games and have fun. I’m not just an ‘extra’ adult in there to supervise.

I’m none of those things. I’m just a tired Mom that works 2 jobs with too much on my plate and probably should be mopping my floor more instead of sending sweet little notes or reminders to the Youth on Facebook. I’m just a complete dork that figured out long after my teen years how I’m supposed to live. I’m a chunky lady that figured out I wasted too much time on a selfish life. I’m simple and use simple words. I do this because God gave me a desire and a genuine burden for their spirits. I get nothing out of it but the joy of seeing one graduate and begin a victorious life in Christ. And if they don’t? Well, I just continue to pray for them. The burden doesn’t end when they graduate. I get lots of hugs. I get lots of texts. I get the smile when I walk into the class. And I get the phone calls from the crying girls when the boyfriend has left, when the parent has been ‘unfair’, and when they believe they’ve sinned past the love of Christ. I get the questions, I get the confusion, I get the anger….

I’m in this for the long haul. I’m here until God gives me another direction. I’m here to love them.

And that is why I do this.