Today’s teenagers are growing up in a very broken world. Many of their parents are divorced. Many of today’s teens have experienced abuse. Many of today’s teens have suffered the tragic loss of a friend or loved one. The current economic crisis our nation is experiencing has put additional pressure on today’s teens that just makes the situation all the more difficult.
Though the teenage years are supposed to be carefree and full of fun, all this brokenness has caused many teenagers to be filled with anxiety instead of joy. I have worked with teens for 18 years and it seems to me that it is harder for teens to discover happiness today than it has ever been. In all my years of youth ministry I have not yet found any easy answers to helping teenagers overcome the hardships of life. But one thing that I have found to be effective is to allow teenagers to spend time with my family. Something happens inside teenagers who are experiencing difficulty when they spend time with a healthy Christian family. Spending time in a home that is not filled with tension seems to lift teens out of their struggles and give them a new perspective on life.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying; I have no misguided ideas that my family is perfect. Believe me, we are not. We are a normal family that experiences the normal stresses of life. But by the grace of God and to the glory of God, our home has been able to avoid many of the difficulties that some teens have experienced in their own homes. Our faith in Christ gives our family a sense of peace in a world filled with turmoil. Our faith in Christ makes our home a refuge of hope in a world that is often hopeless. Our faith in Christ makes our home a sanctuary of love in an increasingly unloving world. Our faith in Christ has helped our home become an oasis of calm in an ocean of chaos.
God has allowed us to use our home as a haven for many teens and college students over the years, and for that, we are grateful. It may have been just for the evening. It may have been overnight. It might have been for a couple of days and nights. Several have stayed for a week or more. A number of college students who wanted to do ministry with us have stayed for up to two months at a time. Though I am sure we have made mistakes during these times, for the most part, God has allowed us to model a home built on faith in Christ and anchored in the love of God.
A couple of years ago one young lady who stayed with us called our house a “happy bubble.” That term has stuck, and the teens that we have become friends with often refer to our home using that term. It is our prayer that the bubble remains happy and that it never bursts and that as teens enter into that happy bubble, they might find the true Source of happiness, which is Jesus Christ. As you consider how you might reach out to hurting teens and impact their lives, consider using your home as a happy bubble to which teens might escape for a period of time from an unhappy world and discover what real Christianity is.