My periodic blogs called “Tough Questions. Real Answers.” have still been some of my all time favorites over the years. I encourage you to go back and read each one of them. I have learned so much through those blogs. Mostly, I have learned that asking questions is the absolute best way to learn and develop compassion for others. Some of my interviews still playback in my mind at the most random times.
Today, I did not realize I would be interviewing for a post. I was simply doing my weekly routine of hanging out with some 6th grade girls at church. I love those girls. They have taught me so much, even though I am supposed to be teaching them. Today, they pulled me into their conversation and captivated me with their raw responses.
As we sat outside to enjoy the beautiful day, each one of them was staggered on a section of concrete steps. It was a beautiful picture of their uniqueness and eagerness. Our large, youth group time usually sets up the stage for a certain topic that we break out and discuss in small groups. I started my group with a straight forward question. “Who is afraid to die?” Without much hesitation, every single girl raised her hand. I appreciated their honesty.
My questions continued and soon we all found out that it wasn’t death itself that they were afraid of. It was the uncertainty of how and when. When I asked them what caused them to be afraid, they responded with answers like, a car wreck, cancer, kidnapping, war and natural disasters. The biggest fear for a 6th grader seemed to be kidnapping. As I continued to ask questions, I was eager to understand what goes on in their minds. All the girls told me they get excited about eternity in heaven. I smiled and told them they should all be encouraged because they weren’t afraid of death at all. It was just the uncertainty and fear of when they might die or how they might die. They almost seemed relieved.
As we continued to break down the issues, I was blown away by some of the conversation. I had asked the girls where they learned fear. I explained that they weren’t born and instantly had fear about cancer or kidnapping. My next questions was, “Where did you learn that fear?” I was surrounded by girls on all sides and felt like Barbara Walters interviewing a group. They all engaged in dialogue and were very honest and open about their feelings. That alone was encouraging. They weren’t looking around at each other or worrying about what someone might think about their answers. They were genuinely eager to discuss the topic. The more they shared, the more normal they all felt. They were affirming each other and I watched their confidence build. My time with them made me wonder if we ask teens enough questions about what they think or feel.
The one answer that has resonated all day for me is, “We learned about fear from adults.” I asked them what they meant. They explained that it was news that taught them some fear or that it was the fact that they never hear the good stories about cancer. They said the movies adults make, teach a fear of dying. “We learned about fear from the things adults do and say.” Wow!
Today I have examined my own message to the generations watching me. The question I ended up asking myself today was, “What kind of message do I send to kids and teens?” There is a dose of reality that is beneficial for young adults, but if we truly believe eternity is better than we can imagine, do we do enough to communicate HOPE and the good stuff? As adults, we need to be messengers of hope and Good News.