"Get out the Word. Teach all these things. And don't let anyone put you down because you're young."
I Timothy 4:11, The Message
Gaining an Understanding of Young People.
"Children need models more than they need critics."
Is there a child in my life who needs my understanding, patience and love?
What can I do to be there for them and to live Jesus' example for them to see?
"Children are one-third of our population and all of our future."
Select Panel for the Protection of Children's Health (1981)
"The heart of a child is the most precious of God's creation. Never break it. At all costs, never break it."
Joseph L. Whitten
Several nights ago, my young niece Bethanie called me. "I need to talk to you, Effie," she began. I have to admit my initial reaction to myself was, "I don't have the time or energy for this tonight." I had an extra long day and had just snuggled down in my pajamas under the covers. I wasn't ready for some gabbing. But I could tell by Bethanie's voice that something important was on her mind and in her heart. So I propped myself up, and listened. For ten minutes she unloaded. She didn't stop hardly to breathe. She just talked - one word after another pouring out like a rushing river. After several minutes, it was quite obvious her little heart was bursting with sadness and a burden too big for one young girl to carry alone.
As we discussed the situation that was the basis for her phone call, Bethanie made this comment in passing, "You know Effie, I'm so thankful I have three moms. Mother, you, and Grandma. I can always go to you guys for advice." The she proceeded to tell me about other times she had asked for help when I had evidently taken time to talk and listen and it had helped her. To be honest, I couldn't ever remember some of the conversations she was referring to, but Bethanie could and she hadn't forgotten.
It hasn't been so long ago, that like Bethanie, I remember being young and needing someone who would listen and care. I'm thankful that several times there were individuals who had their antennas up and were able to dial in to my need for understanding. I remember one of my piano teachers who was eighty years old and on occasion when I arrived for my piano lesson, she'd shove the music books aside and say, "Dorothy, something is going on inside you today. Do you want to talk about it?" Her music studio became a sanctuary for me. A shelter at times when I felt lonely and isolated.
I'm certain many of us can remember someone who made a childhood impression on us because they cared for us and treated us as though we mattered.
I love this short essay, whose author is unknown, for it contains the truth and candidness some young people may not be able to express yet feel in their hearts when you and I as adults, take the time to share the gift of understanding with someone who is young:
"When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I knew that little things are special things. When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you pray, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to. When you thought I wasn't looking, I felt you kiss me good night, and I felt loved. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give to someone needy and I learned the joy of giving. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you always did your best and it made me want to be all that I could be. When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say "thank you" and I wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking."
I'll never forget my dad saying to me one day, "Kids rarely remember what you say, but they sure remember what you do." And then he continued by saying to me, "You know Dorothy, I may not always have the answers to your questions, but I'll always listen and be there for you." He couldn't have given me a more wonderful gift. It's a gift you and I can give to all the young people in our lives, too.
"Lord, help us to be patient
With our children,
To give them time
When they need it,
To listen to their views
However much they may differ from ours.
Help us in our conversations together
That we may always trust each other.
As our children search for knowledge
Help us to learn with them."
we bring before you the world of children.
We bring their openness and friendliness,
their sense of enquiry and creativity.
Forgive our readiness to classify and divide,
to label and separate.
Forgive our voices of experience,
and our demand for their conformity.
Help us to understand and encourage them,
that their spirits may be lifted,
their imaginations quickened,
and their vision broadened,
for your world's sake."
J. Dickson Pope
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.