I watched the movie "Precious" the other night. As you probably know the movie is about a teen girl growing up in New York city. Her entire life has been characterized by physical, verbal and emotional abuse.
Now before you rush out and watch the movie please be aware that there are disturbing scenes of physical and sexual abuse. There's nothing erotic about the scenes but to be honest it was difficult for me to watch.
As in every movie there were points in the movie I shed a tear or two but "Precious" has impacted me in a more profound way than other movies. For 3 days I haven't been able to get "Precious" off my mind.
I've been wondering, are there students I come in contact with that are in similar situations? Sure it may not be as extreme, but isn't there a good chance that if you are like me and work with students, every week we are making eye contact with students who have been neglected and abused?
1 in 3 girls and 1 and 7 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. This means it's very likely that students we are brushing up against every day have experienced abuse. That statistic doesn't even cover other physical and emotional abuse.
So here's what I've been asking myself. How do I see students? Do I simply look at the exterior? What are they wearing? How are they behaving? Or do I take the time to look beneath the surface?
When we come across a student that is difficult to handle and perhaps not that much fun to be around there's a chance there just acting in a way that makes sense. When we encounter a student who seems to have extreme anger issues maybe they're angry because they should be.
You never know, we may be the only source of hope a student has. As youth workers, we could be the first person who has ever really shown a student compassion. That's a really big deal.
So, tonight or this weekend when you're around students, and THAT kid is there, take some time to look beneath the surface. Let's remember that Jesus is in the business of making all things new and even in the toughest situations he can bring restoration. Jesus loved the unlovely, let's keep doing that but even more.