Students during a presentation on identity.

At a recent school presentation I talked about the concept of revealing our true identity with a group of 8th grade students.  I took a cheesy line from the latest Superman movie to illustrate the point.  When Superman is asked what the “S” stands for on his chest, he responds in saying; “It’s not an “S”, in my world it means hope.” With a simple art project I then asked the youth what their symbol of hope and identity would be.  Here were some of their thoughts:
 -      I am different minded, unique and filled with thoughts but a big portion of my mind and personality are unknown to me.
-       Peace will always be with us, even if it’s far away.
-       I think choosing the right path is the most important thing in life.  I hope to choose the right path throughout my life.
-       I am cynical.  How can drawing a picture wrap up all of who I am?
-       My symbol represents all the layers of my masks I have to peel away before I can find myself.
-       Every day, when the sun rises, you have a new beginning; another chance to make better choices and choose new paths, and that to me is hope.
-       This represents strength, kindness and individuality.  Just so you can always remember to help someone in need and lend a hand to make someone feel strong and know they’re not alone.
-       I don’t want to peel back my layers because, if I do, my past will jump out and destroy me and all I’ve built up to hide from it.
-       I drew this picture because I don’t do well with people and have a hard time making friends, so all I want to do is get away.

I just wanted to give these kids a hug. And it made me think of these words from the bible:

 “The LORD does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Life as a teen can be tough. Many times, teens mask their true identity to blend in with those around them.  Rarely do we get a chance to see behind the masks of someone else’s life. Many of them are improperly judged by each other and by society at large. As I went to a store close to campus for lunch, an employee made all students remove their backpacks at the door, but didn’t bat an eye as I walked in with my own bag on my back.  That really is not right.

When they created these I promised them that there were people out there that truly care about who they REALLY were underneath all their fears, insecurities, doubts and outward appearances. They were brave enough to share because they believed that promise. I’d like to invite you to join Jesus and I as we live out that promise together. What an amazing opportunity.

- Danny Ferguson


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