Suffering in Ordinary Life

It is hard to work with teens. I know we prayed as we were to open our teen center that God would bring the teens who really needed to be with us and had no other place to go. Praying was easy, living that out is not. When you decide that the people around you are worth listening to and that God may even have something to teach you through these people, that you are to partake in their hospitality, when you put your own agendas aside for awhile and really engage with people because they are fellow humans, also created in God’s image, worthy of respect, kindness and all good things, well, I don’t know how to say this but brace yourself. I am still not used to the kind of context and narrative this creates. In our case, our teen center has become a place of some sort of confession, a place where you safely can go and pour out your life, the good, bad and the ugly. The stories that come from that are very painful at times. The despair among our teens is deep and hopelessness is common. I am not surprised that so many of them do drugs. They need something, something so they can cope. The things they fill their life with to somehow find something that may feel at least a little like love, and maybe a little bit like acceptance are often very dangerous and addicting. I find that I am using the word “SHOULD” a lot less nowadays, like “You should quit smoking” or You should not have sex before you are married” because I actually understand why they do those things. They have no other way of dealing with the stuff they are going through. If you heard all the time from your mom that she wishes you would have never been born, wouldn’t you feel like smoking a joint? If your dad doesn’t care whether or not your grades are good, if you get in trouble or do something good, if he is completely absent though present, wouldn’t you feel like you needed something to numb the pain? If you had to mow lawns just so your mom could have cash for booze, wouldn’t you feel like escaping somehow?

Entertainment doesn’t do much for the situation above I’ve noticed. We are a very low “bells and whistles” teen center. Our presence has become medicine, the hope our kindness and respect brings is noticeable in the teens. Our words of encouragement and radical hospitality seems to have become a lighthouse of sorts inviting the lonely, broken and outcasts. In this context I am amazed at how our lived out faith is respected from teens who would normally not even give a rip about whether or not the church died or lived or even existed. In this context, talking about God and spiritual things are more than often, welcome and even encouraged.

We offer no easy answers. “Jesus is the answer” is hard to hear for people who don’t know what “f***ing question” is. We often just hear and share the suffering and pain.We acknowledge things, show empathy and then if wanted offer suggestions for change.

I’m not boasting. This has become suffering in my life. I spend much time crying as I leave work going home to my wonderful family, full of love, acceptance, hope and fun, feeling at times, that it’s unfair somehow. I wish I could adopt all of the teens coming to our teen center somehow. This has become an unbearable suffering, which I couldn’t live without(quote from my favorite poet, Nils Bolander)


~ by Rickard on November 9, 2007.

One Response to “Suffering in Ordinary Life”

  1. I wish I could rescue all of these kids… It is amazing what God is doing at this “non christian” teen center. You are my hero baby, I love you.

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