The Gift of Presence

Playing "what's on your toast"

As the year goes by and my relationships with youth grow, I always try to convince myself that it will get easier over time to hear their hard stories. Yet the last few weeks have proven once again that this isn’t the case, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I feel that over time, I’ve started to recognize how normal grief, loss, and toxic situations are for our younger generation. I make a very conscious effort to prevent myself from becoming numb to the hurt in our society, even though I hear new stories of the same old hurt that comes to our young friends.

A youth walked up to me and asked to go for a walk (going for walks seems to be a staple in my work). As we were walking she says to me “ I just needed some space to walk and think” and I replied with the usual      “What have you been thinking about”. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “One of my best friends was murdered a few years ago, and I just found out how she was murdered this week. I can’t stop thinking about it so I just needed some time to walk.”

And then there are other times when I ask to sit with a youth that is alone on the hallway floor. The youth pours themselves out to me and says “ This week my mother told me she wishes I were never born and she never wants to see me again. What am I supposed to do? Mothers are supposed to love there children. Why doesn’t she love me?” I get the opportunity to sit and listen.

So I get to spend time sitting on floors and walking around, and listening, and I realize that it is a privilege. Sometimes the best way to provide support for our young friends is just to sit and listen to their stories and remind them that they are loved and cared for.

Thank you for enabling me to love and support these youth through their life struggles. Thank you for enabling me to listen and provide support. And if you pray, please keep these two young people in your minds as they navigate this messy and complicated world.

Thanks for the love, I will be sure to pass it on.

- Amy Seiler


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