I have a soft spot for teenagers. They are hot messes and young little adults who want to be adults without the responsibilities. And yet they are this beautiful mix of innocence and courage and broken.
There’s a real battle going on for the next generation. I walk into work every day and I watch students blindly give into the magnetic pull the world has on them. It’s strong and it’s ugly.
There’s a lack of loyalty and depth in friendships among our youth, so why would Jesus be any different?
Social media has become a lifestyle. Where only seven years ago, Instagram was a new method of posting fun pictures, apps like Instagram and Snapchat today are replacing phone calls, texting, and real conversations face to face. Instead of social media being an outlet, students are living fully online.
How can Jesus heal the brokenness and the addiction and the family situations when He doesn’t have a Snapchat?
I have to (and get to) tell high schoolers every day that Jesus is good and He might not fix them right away or answer their burning questions. And this breaks my heart because I watch their faces fade. They walk out of my class, look down on their phones, and let the world seduce them.
Netflix, social media, drugs, sex, alcohol, and the like show up with their quick fixes and win the boxing match ninety percent of the time.
And that’s the thing…
They don’t know how to really fight yet.
They don’t even know they need to fight yet.
They are drowning in a world of 30 selfies per minute, soft porn, and lack of identity.
There is no stability online and there is little truth when a perspective, opinion, or heart is changed or damaged within a five-minute passing period.
I want to just take all the phones away and yell. I want to tell them that these apps are potentially damaging their hearts more than benefiting them. I want them to hear and understand love offline. I want to convince them that there is a God who is chasing after them, fighting for them with His own magnetic pull of grace.
Jonathan shared this recently after returning from their trip:
“This problem is the result of human brokenness on a massive and complex scale. There are NO quick fixes for girls like Kwan. I’m just so thankful for the people willing to pursue the slow fixes. I’m so thankful for the people who are willing to be present with these girls and boys in hell. It seems to me that the hardest part of this work is the fact that they have to walk away from so many “Kwans.” And often the only help they are able to give is kindness and a warm arm around cold shoulders. But they press on with the belief that rescue is possible. And over 850 rescues later (and over 330 arrests) they press on.”
This hit me in the gut when I read it because I am so grateful for the people who have pursued the slow fixes with me. And so, I’ve been asking how to pursue the slow fixes in this version of hell and the answer has been clear and simple.
I sit with them.
I listen as they vent about their online lives, their mistakes, their victories, their funny posts and their deepest concerns.
I keep my door open and keep hugging them.
I let their lives come close to mine even if it breaks my heart.
I let my life come close to theirs even when I’m weary and protective.
And then, I give it to Jesus because I can’t carry it and He can.
I cling tightly to the slow-fixing God who touched lepers and sat with the unclean and tore the veil so He could run and hold us close.
This is how we teach them how to fight with love. As we listen to them, they learn how to listen and value others’ stories. By leaving shame and answers at the door, we help them grow up with less entitlement and judgment. We address our own issues and teach them how to forgive. And even though we don’t understand their lifestyle on social media, we ask questions and learn how to be with them.
They are worthy of the slow fixes.
Written by Janae Collins
Janae is wife to Kyle, mom to Logan. Read more from Janae on her blog.