A couple weeks ago, we hosted the students from Central Church of Christ in Gering, for a night of worship and focus on our response to the pain of life. After tacos and chips together, we watched a short film about Bethany Hamilton called Heart of a Soul Surfer. She’s a competitive surfer who uses her life as a platform to lift up Christ – despite losing an arm to a shark.
We talked about how if you’re going to live a life that really amounts to much, chances are you’re going to be hurt at some time or another. It’s how we respond to our injuries that reveals our character and opens or closes a lot of opportunities. God often uses our injuries to point people’s attention (ours and others) to Himself.
In response to the message of hope despite pain, I asked the students to offer their injuries to God and allow Him to work through them. I had them write down their injuries and leave them there. Some of them got stuck on the physical pain part of being injured, while others brought out some pretty heartbreaking stuff. As a youthworker, it hurts me to see students being hurt. But it doesn’t do any good to pretend we don’t.
Here’s a sampling of the injuries listed:
-“My arm broke when I was 5. When I was 3 I got stitches.”
-“Girls always talking about you… Boys are a hurt, too in my life… God, take this HURT!”
-“Everyone holding stuff that I have done in the past still against me. People thinking I should be perfect and always happy, to never have a bad day”
-“I broke my arm playing football and sprained my ankle wrestling”
-“I have done many bad things in my life. God I thank u for dying on the cross for my sins. I love you.”
-“Boys tell me I’m fat. I used to be bulimic and I started cutting this year, but trying not to. I’m giving it to God.”
-“I have been abused both sexually and physically by a boy I thought was my friend. But I didn’t tell anyone about it & still haven’t. I need help! (*She’s getting some now.)”
-“I need your strength to help me be stronger.”
-“One of my best friends was raped. She is broken and seeing her melt down like that kills me… I don’t know how to be strong for her when I’m not strong myself.”
-“Had to use my left hand to write in 6th grade.”
-“Having mono and not being able to play my favorite sport for a whole season.”
-“This is gonna sound weird but I think he uses me because I’m blonde, because a lot of people are always like, “You’re such a blonde” and I just say “Well, I don’t care that’s how God made me and He loves me!” Just by saying that I’ve opened doors for someone to come to Christ.”
-“My parents split up and my dad doesn’t pay attention to me and it feels like he doesn’t love me any more.”
-“I broke my collar bone.”
-“I was taken away from my parents and went back to live with them and got taken away again and they move and I’m in foster care.”
-“I guess feeling left and rejected. It’s been hard without a good Christian influence in my school system.”
-“Asthma and still being able to play baseball and basketball.”
-“I have broken my arm 3 times and I’m glad that was all that happened. I know God was watching over me.”
-“A friend of many years took things from me that can’t be replaced.”
-“I’m very uncertain what God wants me to do. I feel like I’ve been hurt so many times that he has made me strong so I can pray for and help my friends. I’m not sure how or what he wants me to do.”
-“Focusing more on boys than Christ. Being selfish. Thinking of myself as better than others and sometimes doing the opposite and thinking worse of myself.”
I wish I could identify which students went with which anonymous comments to sit and discuss some of these very personal issues. So much pain for young people to know how to handle. But they’ve been trained to hide it well, and so often never allow themselves to be healed. Pray for young people today.
I had written this post last week, and planning to post it later. In light of the shootings in Colorado over the weekend, please pray with me that God will bring healing and hope to those involved. I can’t imagine any injury like losing a child to such random senselessness.