Of all age groups, teenagers carry the worst burden when it comes to others believing or perceiving that they care. Everyone is suspect at some time, a failure to act in a manner that conveys serious, deep contrition when you have done something wrong or stupid. Someone’s inability in accepting or believing that you are really sorry after you made several attempts to convey the message. The lingering impression from one or both parties trying to deal with the pain present that is not offset or covered by the sincerity of the person involved with the event. Any or all of the above can convey the sense of ambivalence.
Yesterday I saw the opposite in action. Cousins that had never met as young adults having fun with each other, bridging the age gaps, and taking the time to be involved in events that have no other purpose than ‘fun’. It was amazing to see 14, 11, 5, and 3 year olds laughing, watching, and playing together for hours. I found myself admiring their expressions of caring for another, especially when the two oldest have struggled for the last few weeks to get along.
We walked through town, enjoyed ice cream on a warm and sunny Dutch afternoon (a rare event!), and strolled over to the nearby horse stables. I am sure that there were moments that one or more of them were bored, however, I did not see any sense of walking away.
I know in my journey there are things I desperately care about. The struggles of two friends living out the harsh reality, the anguish and pain that comes when a hard drive fails, and the edge that keeps getting sharper when work results are elusive. These are painful experiences still unfolding in my life. I feel at a loss for power, but I am not ambivalent!
It is easy to pose the question that we all want to ask. “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” (Romans 10.17)
The answer is intensely personal, yet must be addressed.