Our youngsters need helping

Our youngsters need helping

I am feeling a bit agitated.

The source of my inner turmoil I am experiencing is a conversation I have had with one of my daughters – all to do with ‘feelings’.

A few days ago, a young girl we know tried to kill herself. She took an overdose of painkillers, crossed her fingers and hoped for the worst!

The outcome was not what she anticipated – she survived. Aged just 15, she is now telling doctors and her family her only regret is she didn’t succeed in her quest.

As the conversation with my daughter developed, the word ‘feelings’ was used on several occasions.

‘Dad you really don’t get it,’ said my 18-year-old as I drove her to college. ‘When you are not feeling great about your life, some people may question what the point of living is?’

My daughter is quite right. Frankly, I don’t get it – and I doubt I ever will.

Come July, I will be 56-years-young. School life ended for me almost four decades ago. Even so, in the scheme of things, that isn’t that long ago, and my friends and I had plenty to contend with – with many things affecting our ‘feelings’. But I don’t recall many of us giving up on life.

Of the two people who temporarily did try to kill themselves (both failing), they would both later admit these bids were a cry for help. Many years on, they are now happy and contented.

I explained this to my daughter. Yet rather than diffusing the situation, it poured petrol onto the flames.

‘Dad, you are trying to invalidate the feelings of people,’ she said to me. ‘These feeling are very real and very powerful. Who are you to question them?’

Deteriorating situation

Today, it seems to me that our young people have very little in their lives that actually glues and knits them together. Mobile phones and social media are the oracles for many youngsters. Without them, they are impotent, incapable of existing.

Or so it seems.

And perhaps my frustrations at this deteriorating situation showed through when I spoke to my daughter.

Nowadays many family relationships seem to be in pieces (the girl in question comes from a broken home); sex and promiscuity is the norm for teenagers; and where there was once a faith heartbeat that gave some form of spiritual direction (albeit teenagers often chose to ignore it), today there just seems to be a lot of vacuous noise coming from a variety of Christian denominations.

In such a world, where nothing really appears to matter other than money, looks and status, is it any wonder young people are increasingly feeling lost – and, in some cases, actually losing the will to live?

I don’t know how we sort this growing problem out. But I do know preaching to our young people is certainly not the answer (albeit often I fail on this front).

But I remain convinced the Church has the biggest role to play in helping society dealing with the ills that afflict it. And when I say ‘Church’, what I am really saying is the ‘people of the church’.

Those of us who believe in Christ’s purpose and mission need to stand up and be counted. Our communities need selfless, godly people who stand for something greater than themselves – and who are prepared to invest time and effort in those that need support. And these people are not always the homeless or those people suffering poverty or abuse.

Sometimes they are young people, like the girl my daughter and I know, who are lost and their ‘feelings’ are in overdrive, skewing the way they think and behave. These people are in desperate need of some non-judgmental guidance and love.

In my humble opinion, there is only one place where this can come from. Therefore, my challenge to myself and you is: are we prepared to give it?

Tony Yorke is Deputy Editor of Sorted magazine.