So, I have a confession. Embarrassing as it is, I must speak.
I actually really like “Firework” by Katy Perry.
Despite the fact that I don’t really think too highly of some of her decisions or most of her music or the fact that she shoots fireworks from her.. chest… I have to say, the song hits me right where it’s supposed to hit.
A lot of people got up in arms a few years ago because a professor decided that the reason that his students were acting selfish or self-entitled was because, back in the day when they were in diapers or kindergarten, a certain someone told them they were special: Mister Rogers. It got to the point that one news channel were questioning if we could even describe him as evil.
Now, while I don’t like people who are proud, self-centered, or think they deserve anything and everything, often I would prefer that to the opposite possibility: people living lives without a sense of meaning, uniqueness, and identity.
Maybe it’s because it’s because of my past. I felt very alone and lost my identity after a tough move in middle school. But after a life-changing experience at camp, I found my life in the life of Jesus.
Maybe it’s because of my present. For the past few months I’ve been dealing with some depression, anxiety, and other stuff that clouds up the mind. There are days when I need a reminder that my life has meaning.
Maybe it’s because of my past, present, and future. I have been, am, and will be involved in ministry, probably for the rest of my life. Specifically younger people, children and youth. I have a calling to them because, I believe, they are ones at the crossroads of life, vulnerable and hurting. Of course, all people are hurting, but children and youth are still forming their identity and I would love to help them.
But we are all searching for some meaning, whether it’s in religion or philosophy, literature or science, family or friends or love or war or nation or nature, we all want life to mean more than the day to day. We want to believe that we matter more than just a handful of dust. And while we are just that, we are so much more.
I believe that God sees each person as a unique creation, an individual work of art. He loves and cares about each person he has made and wants them to know how special they are to Him. Now, we are not God’s gods. He does not worship us- we are still to be reflections of his glory. But just as a painter loves a picture of a flower for the glory of the real existing flower found on a canvas, God loves us and loves the image that He has placed within us: the image of God.
When I speak to kids or youth or, well, anyone, I hope (and it is hope, because I fail every time I know) to tell them they are unique and special and loved. Specifically in the eyes of God, but honestly sometimes I’d rather a person simply find joy in being unique even out of the context of faith. I know, I shouldn’t. I too believe the that life lived outside of serving God is not a full, abundant life. But all life outside is not feeble and pale. People can find true joy in being loved by family, true happiness in their ability to play a sport or make art, true identity in the context of community. Sure, the family or community or sport or art or whatever is giving them joy may not be properly directed towards the Maker of all things, but nevertheless, He is the Maker of all things. Including joy, meaning, acceptance. Satan can try to twist and pervert and change those good graces, but that’s all. He can’t manufacture them himself. So when a youth is accepted into a clique, is that a good thing? Maybe acceptance is, but that situation isn’t. When two people of the same gender enter into a relationship, is that a good thing? Maybe love is, but that loving relationship isn’t. When a parent showers down affection upon their child even though the kid is a brat and will grow up with an ego the size of Montana, is that a good thing? Maybe affection is, but the actions aren’t. I don’t know. These are just my thoughts. They are fueled by the faith in the Maker and Maintainer of Good, but I can’t completely speak for Him.
So, baby, you’re a firework. Come on let your colors burn. Make ‘em go “Ah, Ah, Ah!” You’re going to leave them all in awe.
“You don’t have to feel like a waste of space”
”You’re original, cannot be replaced”
”Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed so you can open one that leads you to the perfect road”
Are these things that we are teaching our kids, telling our friends? Are we believing it ourselves? Sometimes this is why I have trouble with the idea of absolute depravity. I feel that even though we sinned and made a mess of this world, it’s still not our world. God is still Creator and Redeemer, and while he saved us at the cross, He saved us forever before that and forever after. Incarnation. Image of God. Omnipresence. “I will be with you, even to the end of the age.” God has come and made his home among us. And though we perverted ourselves like picklers pervert cucumbers, at the core, we are still creations of God, just like a pickle is still a cucumber in nature. (Yet I still hate pickles.)
Anyway, to end off this soapbox ramble, let me just say three things.
1. You are so very unique and special and loved.
2. Tell the people around you how much they mean to you
3. Remind yourself of 1 and 2 every day
Oh yeah, and Jesus loves you.
Look at the songs that GLEE has done and see how many of them speak of hope, identity, finding meaning and joy. It’s such a common issue we all struggle with, especially those in high school. We all need a reminder here and there.