As I was cleaning up from my teen ministry, picking up the paper plates filled with pizza crust and cookie crumbs, I gathered the papers on clipboards that the kids filled out during the writing exercises we worked on together. Piling them in my hands, one by one I glanced at their words, their doodles, their identity.
I’ve worked with teens for 30 years in group homes and psychiatric hospitals, in ministries at church and in my home- and my mission is always the same.
To help these kids understand who they are and how they fit into this world.
The teen years are often when kids begin to emerge into themselves- growing to discover new emotions and often confusing and overwhelming needs, desires, and questions.
So we talk about how they think others see them, and how they see themselves.
This particular group session was focused on how others see them.
Each kid took the spotlight, while the other kids each shared how they would describe that particular individual. I had them write down what their peers said, and afterward, circle the descriptions they felt were accurate.
This exercise is always valuable- giving each kid a new perspective on how others see them. It can be both empowering and enlightening to the teen, as they learn the difference between how others see them and how they in fact, view themselves.
So as I was picking up the last clipboard, the artwork caught my eye and I glanced at the lower corner of the paper where I saw a bordered section that read, “How I see myself.” This was to be the next exercise in next week’s group, but we hadn’t gotten to that yet. Out of curiosity, I skimmed the words she listed and one in particular stole my breath.
Seeing this word inspired me to write a letter to all the teenage girls who feel fragile. I know most girls do, whether they are able to acknowledge that or not. If you know any teen girls who might need some encouragement through these difficult growing years, I hope you can pass my message on to them. I’m honored to have it published over at Grown and Flown, and you can read the rest of the piece HERE.