Yesterday during one of my religious education classes we studied the life of Zacchaeus and how God turned him from a selfish person everyone hated to a selfless person everyone loved after meeting Jesus. Towards the sessions end one of the students raised her hand and demanded I tell another student who was in my second class to stop bullying her.
After asking what she meant by bullying I learned the second student had started hanging out with a new crowd and didn’t want to be friends with her anymore. Of course she was informed of this by email which made me fondly remember the day when school drama rarely went farther than “well my daddy can beat up your daddy” and took place on the hopscotch court; I will now do one hundred push ups for using the words hopscotch in a blog post…in the meantime why not read this informative article about hopscotch on Wikipedia.
Okay now where was I? Oh yes a girl wanted me to tell her former friend she should stop being such a bully. Part of me wanted to ignore her question but then the Lord revealed it was an opportunity to share the Gospel. So I looked directly at her and asked, “what kind of people does Jesus love?” It took a few minutes before one of the other students blurted out “everybody! Jesus loves everybody!”
For the remaining five minutes of class I was able to explain that God gives us the strength to love everyone (even bullies), and promised to pray God would help her love that former friend, but only if she would do so as well. About twenty minutes later the Lord allowed me to talk with the other girl about the same thing then share my testimony of Salvation, and ask how she came to know the Lord.
When the student brought up the issues between them part of me wanted to just tell her to get over it or pass the problem off to someone else. Another part was tempted to have them settle their dispute the way teen boys do with an old-fashioned spitting contest but quickly ruled it out. As a thirty-six year old single man I don’t have much experience dealing with teen girl drama except for what I learned from watching seven seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD (that’s just a joke…and don’t you dare come over to my house and check). But Mondays taught me those situations come from God so they would be open to the Gospel.
The other thing Monday revealed was the need for friends who would simply listen to young people when they are struggling. It’s true that the problems we had as teens pale compared to the challenges experienced in our adult years but its easy to forget that young people today wrestle with issues that we never faced. I can remember when sleeping through the Donkey Kong Saturday morning cartoon was a serious problem!
Sure the drama they share may never go past “so and so doesn’t want to be my friend anymore” but if we are willing to listen there is a strong possibility it could initiate conversations about much deeper issues.