Rinse and Repeat
The idea of making contact with a teen can be a scary thought to someone who isn’t surrounded by it day in and day out. Most of the time they are temperamental, hormonal, closed off, distracted…it can be intimidating. How can one begin to connect with someone who cannot stay focused on something for more than two minutes? How is it possible to foster growth with a young person? How can you work with this teen that most don’t want to engage with?
The first thing we do is get awkward. The only way us engaging with a young person would not feel awkward is if it was on our terms (as adults) and not on theirs. That is exactly why I go to the schools
every day - to enter into their lives and submerge in their day-to-day struggles and victories. That’s where those awkward first interactions and conversations come from. Because I clearly stick out like a sore thumb in a school setting, it’s clear that I don’t belong there in their world. Could it be painful to watch those initial interactions? Probably. But in the long run - it’s worth it.
Next, I try to find some common interests. Anything, really. At this point I am able to create opportunities to invest. This looks like meals out, taking them to movies, coffee shops, anything that would give me the opportunity to be face to face. This past week I was at a movie with one of my young friends, which was a lot of fun and was great for creating shared memories. The time, however, was made completely worth it after the movie when I was able to connect one on one while driving him home.
I knew that having this fun time together would create an opportunity later, even if it was just for ten minutes, to open up a real rinse and repeat connection and talk with this teen from downtown Langley about the hurts, pains, and joys occurring in his life. Over and over again, get awkward, create opportunities for investment, let conversations deepen. Keep on creating environments for growth and depth. Eventually, those awkward moments and meals out become worth it. Before you know it there’s an open, real relationship occurring from a caring adult into a teens life who needs it.
Over the last two months my time has been spent intersecting and investing in the lives of young people here in Langley. Patience is key, as this cycle can go around and around before you start seeing any change or depth occur. But by being available and a steady presence in their lives I will eventually get to this point. I was so encouraged to have a night at our programs last week where the depth of conversation reached a new level. Conversations that began with brokenness, broken relationships and bad family situations led to the Bible, questions about the character of God, and why Jesus had to die on the cross. Amazing.
Rinse and repeat. Get awkward, invest the time, create opportunities and experience new moments of depth. That’s how my last two months have been in youth work. I’m truly blessed to get to do the work that I do, with the people that I do it with, in this city of Langley that we love.
Thanks for journeying with me.
- Jon Pue