Josh Medlock, Director of Student Ministries
My position here at First United Methodist Garland puts me in direct contact with teenagers and young adults.
This has afforded me the opportunity to hear firsthand what it is like growing up in the world we live in now.
Teenagers and young adults are trying to figure out a lot of things in their lives. Things like who am I, what will I do for a career, what are my passions, what is my political affiliation, do I believe in God?
These are just a few of the numerous questions these young people are struggling to answer.
In the midst of this struggle, our high school age young people are struggling with preparing for college and graduation, getting good grades, getting scholarships to be able to go to college in the first place, and extra-curricular activities while juggling family and friends.
Our college age young people are struggling with preparing to go out into the work force, finding employment, finding suitable living arrangements, maybe a first apartment or first house, relationships, church and family.
Many of them are so overwhelmed by all the pressures and challenges they face that some become depressed and withdrawn because they feel they simply cannot accomplish all of it and that makes them worthless.
Social media does not help.
All of your accomplishments, and sadly, all of your failures are broadcast for the world to see, instantly.
You cannot hide and often times you cannot even control what is being put out there for the world to see.
People hide behind a computer and lash out and hurl insults and say things they would never say to your face, because there are often no consequences to them.
There are consequences to those whom it is about.
These actions can lead to a feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing.
Ultimately this can lead our young people to a dark place where they find it difficult, if not impossible to love themselves for who they are because they don’t feel they are worthy of love.
I want to be clear here by acknowledging that this is not a problem specific to just young people. All of these things can happen to people of all ages.
If a person is being torn down on social media, told they aren’t OK by mainstream media and the people they know, and they cannot be accepted for who they are by their church, their families and their community, then they are at risk for becoming depressed and full of self-hate.
Most of us may not even realize that we may know someone who is suffering like this.
Sometimes people who are suffering like this often find ways to love other people, find ways to put on a happy face, but struggle with loving themselves.
This has to change.
Every person is worthy of love. Every person is made to love and be loved.
We have been talking about “Love Stories” in our current worship series. There have been strong and convicting messages given by staff and laity alike in different ways throughout this series.
However, I would like to offer a few things to consider that were offered to me by someone struggling with depression, self-hate and addiction.
Here is what they had to share:
“‘Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye,’ a quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
To me this means that we aren’t always able to see what our heart sees.
We who suffer are so blinded by chaos and pain that our heart can’t seem to love.
It’s not that we can’t love you, it’s that we can’t love ourselves.
People tell us we are worthless, we are ugly, we are this or that … we are shamed for being who we are.
You hear it enough, you see it enough and you believe it. It becomes your truth, your reality. And it sucks.
You don’t understand why you are crying, or why you want to cut yourself, or why you want to get high.
You just do it. It is the only thing you control so you do it. You learn to hate yourself.
That is how I lived my life for 13 years.
I attempted suicide twice. The scars are evident and painful to see, especially when I see other people staring at them.
I think, “Are they judging me right now?” And I start to feel the old feelings creep up.
While I was in rehab five years ago I met someone who shared her stepladder with me.
It went like this:
Step 1 – Know and accept who you are right now – the good, the bad and the ugly.
This step is about revisiting who we are and seeking what is true, even when it is challenging.
Step 2 – Have something worth striving for.
I moved beyond striving for just a better relationship with someone in my family and really thought about something I needed to have.
I landed on God oddly enough. Didn’t really expect that.
I just knew that in order for me to move to a place of self-love I had to realize that I was worthy of love, and who loves me no matter what … God does.
Step 3 – Take action toward you.
Be intentional every day to silence the voices that drag you down and listen to the voice inside.
You are worthy, you are beautiful, you are loved.
Just like the negative stuff, you hear it enough you begin to believe it. Only this time it is truth.
Step 4 –Let go of the outcome.
Learning to realize that you don’t get to control the outcome of everything in your life can be very freeing.
You can’t control what someone else says, but you can control whether you listen to it and believe it.
You can’t control what someone else thinks of you, but you can control how you present yourself to them.
Might sound silly and simple but you have to let go of everything and trust that God walks with you all the time.
You are going to stumble; you are going to fall. But you will also have someone there to pick you up.
I am worthy, I am beautiful and I am loved. Always.”
In a world where we struggle with so much, it is not too difficult to see why our young people are so much at risk.
I am sharing this story with you today in hopes that each of you will take some time in the very near future to be intentional with your relationships, especially with those who live with you and those you dearly love.
The mask of happiness is often just that, a mask.
Dare to ask the tough questions.
Be bold enough to show someone you love them, no matter what.
You might just be the link in the chain that they have been waiting for.
God shows us unconditional love each and every day. And that my friends is a blessing worth sharing.
You are worthy, you are beautiful and yes, you are loved.
Tell someone else the same.