Working with high school students will break your heart. It just will. They are fickle in their affections, not just with each other, but with those who love them best. Their parents, their mentors, their God. But, working with high school students is also exhilarating. All that hope and promise. All that fight they have in them. All that conviction that they can make a difference in the world. It's one of the best jobs in the world.
Feelings run the gamut in our line of work and, in a way, we've learned to embrace the bipolar-ness of it all.
One of our Young Life students, a student Loren pursued and loved and who met Christ at camp three years ago, is dying. He has stomach cancer. Terminal cancer, at 20. And he has, at most, a month to live. So, Loren has been going over, trying just to be there. Giving him communion. Just sitting with him cause it hurts too much for him to talk. It's heartbreaking. And yet, when Loren speaks at his memorial, he'll get to talk about how Jedd's life was changed because of Christ, how he had peace in his last days, how he was ready to meet Jesus.
On Sunday night, I cleaned up the kitchen while 20 high school kids and Young Life leaders piled into our living room to study the bible. I watched them come in, many who have broken the hearts of these leaders as they prayed and pursued and waited and hoped that Jesus would woo them to himself. And now, here they are. Praying, studying, and singing lullabies of, "Holy is the Lord" as I tuck my kids into bed. It's overwhelming. To be that close up for someone else's journey into life with Christ.
What I'm learning is that my heart should be broken. There is beauty in that. A broken heart is the work of the Holy Spirit. He uses it to ignite my passion for his work. He uses it to expose me and then draw me close. And, he uses it to show himself as the only true mender of the brokenhearted. When my heart is broken, I get to share in the sufferings of Jesus. And I get to feel his delight as he turns mourning into dancing, sorrow into joy.
This year I've seen hearts smashed to smithereens. I've experienced it, too. It's been the best year of my life.