All the teenagers in my life are in such a hurry to grow up. One can’t wait till he can work, drive and move out. Another wants to go away to college as fast as she can. This is the nature of maturation. Teens struggle to separate from us and become their own adults, not meaning to hurt us along the way. Although I long to see the wonderful adults they will become, they drive a dagger through my heart each time I see them rush to grow up and leave. I can see the problems they will face ahead, because I have been there. I love them, I have studied my children’s characters and I know how hard growing up could be.
What a contrast to this is the idea of possessing the faith of a child. I recently heard a wonderful homily on this subject. The priest talked about miracles in the Bible and pointed out to the congregation that the miracles only occurred when the recipient had the faith of a child. He went on to give an example of having to cross a very busy street with a two or three year-old child. You extend your hand to them and they take it. They do not ask you, “Are you sure it’s safe to cross now?” They assume you will do what is best for them and that you will keep them safe. That is the faith we are called to live. Completely trusting, not questioning the outcome….even when it appears that cars are rushing straight toward us. We can not see the big picture, but the Lord does and He has already prepared for it. Just as my own children can not see the difficulties ahead, but hopefully my husband and I have prepared them for anything they will face.
How then, do I encourage these young people (who want to grow up so quickly) to pursue the faith of a child? They think they have all the answers and that is in opposition to the humility it takes to grow in faith.
Youth ministers must tread carefully here. We need to respect our students growing independence while encouraging their dependence on the Lord.
1. We can do trust exercises to demonstrate the need for the faith of a child. One that my own teens enjoyed, is being led by someone while the youth is blindfolded. We end our journey in a room that is lit by a cross lit with candles. They then participated in a quiet prayer meditation on trust.
2. Have the students spend time with younger children. Experiencing Mass, prayer, or any type of spiritual activity with a child helps us to view that activity through a child’s eyes.
3. Be honest with the teens that, at times, they will be required to fight their own natures and what the world teaches them in order to fully rely on God.
4. F.R.O.G. day! Create a retreat day in which Fully Rely on God is the theme. Have games and meditations with this theme. Perhaps end the day with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and a Mass. Ask the priest to focus his homily on trusting God and having the faith of a child.
As we work with our students on this, we will find ourselves growing in trust and faith also. God Bless.