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.
Janine Huldie says
Aw, loved your advice, especially that last line and seriously going to have to remember this when my girls begin to enter their teenage years, as well. Thanks for sharing, Chris!! 🙂
Thanks so much, Janine! Yeah- in time you might want this letter to read to them too. <3
I didn’t see a comment area on the forwarding page, but wanted to say spread that letter to all teenagers on social networks..how they need to reframe their self talk an your letter and ideas are so enriching and beautiful and oh wow, I wish I had someone like you Christine when I was 15..how girls soooo need us, so need perspective and self love and understanding the changes going through their bodies…wisdom and friendship with women like you are needed and wise words from your lips ..!!As always so wise and wonderful.
Oh friend, how I adore your incredible response to this piece! You know, I sure wish I had someone to encourage and empower me back during those rough years as well. I do hope and pray I can help as many growing teens as I can through my ministry and my words! They need tons of support from people they trust. Thank you SO much for being such a beautiful supportive friend, Kathy. I’m so grateful. <3
Marie Kléber says
This is very powerful Chris and I believe all young girls and mums should read your piece. Thanks for sharing such wisdom.
Thanks so much, Marie. I really hope they do… and BELIEVE it! <3
Candace Playforth says
Oh Chris, this should be required reading for all teenage girls. I loved when you said “because of your insight, you are stronger.” What a beautiful truth. I had zero insight at that age. I was so caught up in staying busy and completely out of my mind. I couldn’t deal with the incredibly important task of self discovery you talked about. That looks like a wonderful writing exercise you are doing with these teens. You are serving well, my friend!
Thanks so much Candace! Yes, I love that description: “Self Discovery”- I too was submerged in all things teens and unable to be as wise and insightful as this beautiful teen. I really do hope and pray I can help them through this challenging journey and often difficult season in life. I SO appreciate your encouragement, my friend! <3
lisa thomson says
That’s a beautiful post, Chris. You’ve expressed this so well and I’m certain all young women will find comfort in your words!
Thanks so much Lisa. That is my hope and my prayer. I know many who need this encouragement!
This is so lovely Chris. And you’re absolutely right – what remarkable insight this young lady must have.
Thanks so much Liv. She’s amazing. Coolest kid I know, really. I was never that wise at her age. I hope she and so many other girls who feel fragile know this truth and feel empowered by it. <3
Kristi R Campbell says
OMG please come visit and speak to my son. <3
Aw!! I would LOVE to come visit and scoop your sweet boy up in my arms and whisper all the GOOD THINGS in his ear… <3
Julie Jo Severson says
What an important piece for you to publish over there. I remember feeling so so fragile as a young girl, and it crushes me when I see my kids hurting, feeling less than who they truly are because of the opinions of others. Your words and encouragement are a gift to so many. Love ya!
Yes- oh this stage in life is SO hard! I remember it well, too. I hope any girl who struggles can read it. Thanks so much, Julie! <3
what a powerful message that you shared. THANK YOU! I am struggling with my teenage daughter who feels like this. I will share this with her and hope that she truly hears it. I’ve never experienced the type of pain that I feel now watching her struggle with her self worth and confidence. I appreciate you sharing your experiences to help other moms and kids. So special.
Oh, Tracy, I’m so sorry your girl is struggling so much! It’s SO HARD to watch our kids hurting! I hope and pray this speaks to her heart and encourages her…
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. <3