Every year, my high school youth ministry takes some time to address the often misunderstood but very relevant topic of Church teaching regarding love, marriage, and sexuality. There is much to be said, so we usually set out a question box to direct the conversation. Questions are submitted anonymously at one youth night and then answered a week or two later at another night.
Last year, I received a slip of paper which simply said:
I have never been loved, and I never will be.
This moving question left a couple of my youth leaders in tears , wondering whose heart has been broken enough that they might believe that. I am not naive enlighten to think that he or she is the only one out there who feels this way, here is my response…
You didn’t leave your name on the page, but you know who you are. I want you to know that I consider you to be worth enough to get this response. I am sorry that you feel like the people who should love you have fallen short in that regard. If you’ll allow me a few minutes of your time, I would like the chance to tell you otherwise.
I don’t know what you’ve been through. I would be happy to listen and cry with you as you tell your story… I can only imagine what has led you to believe you are not loved.
You are lovable. Of all the things God created, you are the most amazing. However you came into the world, you should know that you are first and foremost the result of a thought of God (so says Pope Benedict), meaning you are willed, loved, and necessary. Whatever circumstances surround your conception and birth, for God to conceive of you was to imagine a wonderful, beautiful, amazing life. You don’t have to take my word for it. Check out John 10:10 and Jeremiah 29:11 and read what He says.
You might be thinking that this sounds nice, but that I have never had to stand in your shoes. And you are right. But I know that the central mystery of our faith starts with the idea that God became one of us, walked in our shoes, experienced joy and pain, comfort and loneliness…even despair. He knows you inside and out. He cries with you in all you’ve suffered, yet wants so much more for you. He will make it up to you.
How do I know this? Well, it has something to do with the fact that Jesus came to show us what a promise really means. His death on the cross – and subsequent resurrection – took the reality of love to a whole other level. He spared nothing, because He knows that you are worth it. In fact, if it were only for you, He would have done it all over and over again. He sees your value, because He made you, stands with you, and will never abandon you.
If you give us the chance, we will show you what we mean. Many of us in the Church and in the youth group have had the despairing moments you feel now. But Jesus never gave up on us. He is sticking with you, too, especially when you can’t see, feel, or year Him (remember the footprints poem.)
You are loved. You really are. My life as a youth minister is all about trying to show you that. It may take some time, but you’ll see. Know that I am praying for you.
In His love (which never fails),