Thursday, July 18, 2019

You Are Loved...




Before I started having children and before I went to school to become an educator, I worked with teenagers at my church. I wasn't much older than they were but I was their counselor, leader, listener, and controlled chaos maker. After countless heart to heart discussions with kids, I realized that down deep many insecurities came from a lack of feeling loved.  Hard parent-child relationships made youth wonder if their parents' love was conditional. Breakups during early dating years made them wonder if they were worthy of being loved. Not finding someone to date made them wonder if they would ever be loved. Insecurities about everything from their looks, their laugh, the car they drove, bad choices they made, to the pimple on their forehead that made them feel as conspicuous as a unicorn make teenagers wonder about their value.

It was during and after those years I started signing letters, creating handouts, making bulletin boards, posting on social media, and saying regularly YOU ARE LOVED. Three simple words that make a world of difference! For me, it is a reminder that no matter how poopy the day is, how much I feel like a failure, how deeply I feel rejected...I am loved by the God of the universe, unconditionally. It's easy for me to share that with others. I live it and feel it daily.  I also feel there is a need for me to share it often as a reminder. Even for students that might not believe in God, to have someone let them know they are loved builds them up for the task at hand, the day ahead, or the disappointing moment.

Each child we teach has something inside them worthy of our love. Relationships matter between us and our students; word choice matters. I would never walk around telling teenagers "I love you" because of the possibility of it being construed as inappropriate. I will say "You are loved" to gird them up to help them with their self-esteem. Our students need more than a person with all the answers, they need someone they can trust daily, they need consistency, they need to know someone believes in them, and they need to know they are loved. Saying "you are loved" with a side hug or fist bump works wonders. "You are loved" has been my mantra for around 25 years, what is yours?

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