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To see or not to see, that is the question... - By Matt

Recently, I sat with a young man who was struggling to make sense of everything happening in his life. (I have permission to share a small part of his story). He was raised in a Christian family and was totally immersed in church. He attended, served, prayed, was baptised, and gave to all the church was doing. But now, something isn't adding up for him. He has questions that he didn't know he had. I was wanting to give him space to explore the questions.

Like all teenagers, he wanted to enjoy his life. His friends were all doing things he was told would lead him astray from God. They weren't even bad things, just the fear of the bad things. The fear of being led-astray is a defining part of his belief system. he became scared of judgment and even punishment from God if he took a step out of line. When he did, he did it secretly and desperately hoped that no one would discover what he had done. He learned to hide, and he learned to lie. At night he would passionately pray and ask God to forgive him, pleading with Him to not punish him.

Eventually, the passionate prayers for forgiveness started to get less and less, as he felt that God was not listening to him anyway. He was getting nothing back in the conversation. He had never been taught how to listen for God's voice; rather, he was taught what he needed to believe about God.

The people around him all seemed to be well-meaning and wanted the best for him, but no one was willing to stop and listen to this young man. People could see his potential and speak to all he would become, but no one would sit with him and listen to the desires of his heart.

So, I sat with this young man and listened...

What I discovered was a young man who craves to be seen for who he is. He wanted to be accepted and loved by his friends as much as he wanted to accept and love the people around him. He told me of his best friend, a young man who would steal cigarettes from people and loved the band KISS. He had the band's posters all over his wall and played the guitar like Ace Frehley. (I laughed internally when I heard this 😂)

I watch as the young man in front of me grows in wonder as he talks about his own desire to play guitar like this and to be in a band. But then I watch as the young man's shoulders slump, and he tells me he lives in a world where he feels he would not be able to do any of this without fear of God being upset with him.

Through tears, he tells me I am the only one he has told this to.

Today, I sat with the 14-year-old, and he tells me of the 11-year-old version of himself that would steal money to play video games. I asked him why he did this. He simply tells me that he is good at the game and loves to feel the feeling of winning.

My conclusion: The 14-year-old just wants to feel joy...

Maybe you've already guessed it... but the 14-year-old is me...

The 53-year-old sits in front of the 14-year-old today and wants him to feel the love and joy he was seeking. So much has happened since then, and so much has been learned. I grew up in a different time than now, but I know there are many 14-year-olds out there crying to be seen and heard. It doesn't take much, but it does take your attention to be intentional.

When Jesus was asked who the greatest in the Kingdom was, He looked around and found a child. Directing all of His attention at this child, he says to everyone listening that this child is the greatest in the Kingdom. I wonder if everyone listening thought this was about to be a parable or a story...

But it wasn't...

Jesus continued, "Anyone who believes as this little child would see the Kingdom of God." Read that again... "would see the Kingdom of God."

How do you think that child responded to Jesus' words of affirmation? How do you think those words affected the child's parents?

My answer... profoundly!

Jesus' intentionality was everything to this child. From the first time I understood this passage and until the day I die, I want to be this intentional with every child and adult who comes across my path.

May we all grow to know that we are designed to be seen and heard. To understand the simplicity of what Jesus is teaching is the beginning of relationships that will last an eternity.


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