Everyone Has Value

Sunday, March 1, 2015
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Which of the following were heard from students in Open Circle recently?

  1. Usually I feel like adults think I’m a nuisance…because I’m “just a teenager,” which to them means I’m annoying, in the way, without a valid opinion, idealistic.
  2. Thank you for seeing me as a valid soul and respecting me despite my age.
  3. I’ve never had space like this where I can share about who I am without having to explain, where there’s no pressure to fit in with something. I can discover who I am so much more freely here where there aren’t restrictions on what is shared.
  4. Being here, being guided and supported by you, shows me what it’s like to be loved.
  5. It’s not ok just to do well. You have to be better than everyone else. So for you to do well, everyone else needs to fail.

And the answer is… all of the above except (e), which was a conversation between students overheard on the city bus.

Two things stand out to me here. One is that young people are craving relationships with role models who can hold space open for them to explore their own path. The second is that young people often feel discounted and of little value in our productivity-oriented society. To feel valued, they feel they need to fulfill a checklist of having a career that makes a lot of money, buying a house, getting married, and so on. This is in contrast with my own faith perspective in which every person has immense value, just as they are. Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry asks: “How would you measure your worth as a human being? Does it hinge on your job title, your usefulness in the world, your bank balance? The spiritual [perspective] is that your worth is built in. Everybody’s life has value.” As a young adult, my resilience was encouraged by the example of Jesus, who welcomed young people when others discounted them, spoke of the least being the greatest, and taught about the need to become like a child in order to understand what it’s all about.

In Student Open Circles, our daily practice is to invite young people, from all or no faith background, to understand their worth and grow into who they truly are. You can see in Shahan’s story, how experiencing this space of respect and deep listening is a life-changing relief. Thank you for your support in creating these opportunities for transformation!

— Marybeth Leis Druery