Last night I was teaching on Ephesians 6:1-9. I’ve taught on this twice now. I can’t help but notice the deep brokenness many teenagers live with over a fractured family dynamic. A dad who has walked away from his responsibility as a father, a mother who is so angry and bitter she cannot make herself emotionally available for her children.
Divorce, alcoholism, neglect, abuse, financial stress and crisis. The list could go on and on over what students deal with and are dealing with on a daily basis. I can’t help but wonder what we, the church, can do for these children. We can’t just sit by and not do anything, so I will propose a few suggestions.
1. Care for the vulnerable. This means when children who come from dysfunctional, broken homes come into our area of influence we seek to draw them in, to show them what family is meant to be.
2. We create safe places. Students coming from brokenness have little to no sense of structure and security. They are uncertain of who they can trust and for how long. They live guarded, wounded and hurting. This means we create an atmosphere that allows for transparency, honesty, openness and vulnerability. We share our own struggles. We dig deep into their lives with the purpose of speaking words of healing into their pain.
3. We sit with them in their pain. Sometimes we feel a need to fix everyones problem. We look for words to fill the silence of pain that makes us uncomfortable or we quickly move on from it. The best thing we can do for students who are hurting is to give them our presence, sitting with them in their trouble. To do so communicates that we are there for them. We may not have all the answers to their pain, but we will stand with them as they seek God for healing. Students who come from broken homes, more than anything need supportive adults in their lives who will stick with them and be there for them, without judgement.
4. We don’t give up on them, even if they give up on us. Students coming from fractured, broken homes have little understanding of what it means to maintain healthy, long-term relationships. Therefore, when things get hard, they tend to leave. We, as emotionally and spiritually healthy adults must communicate to these students that we will always be there for them, even if they choose to walk away.