Remember adolescence? For some kids it's a hard time. All those changes taking place that they need to understand and deal with. The fear that they might not mature and develop into something wonderfully worthy.
My friend Cal is 13. He has been worried, his mom told me. So when he recently found hair under his arms, he immediately bought a sleeveless T-shirt - so this new sign of maturity could be seen! What that reveals of the adolescent yearning is touching. You might smile, too, knowing the inevitability of that maturity. Cal will grow and develop. Manhood will follow.
But the nature of that manhood (or womanhood - girls also worry about adolescence) is not so predictable. At the heart of positive development, in which integrity, self-respect, social responsibility, etc., are cultivated, is the knowledge that one is loved and valued. Without this, the prognosis for development is not always so good.
After the Littleton, Colo., shootings, the Monitor reported on a high-school newspaper editor, who shared her sense of what is needed for sound, positive, individual growth ("Teens and the adults around them," May 25). She quoted John Steinbeck: "The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears ... and with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection ... and there is the story of mankind."
Each child is worthy. And it's important for each to know this. For those of us wanting to help, there is something we can do. We can pray. Prayer can make a difference.
The Bible says that God is the creator of all of us. He crowns us with glory and honor (see Ps. 8:5). And He knows us to be good (see Gen. 1:31). For all this to be true, He must be pleased with us, too!
That's a solid base for a daily prayer that includes all people. God made each one spiritual and perfect. That's the reality, even though it so often seems otherwise. Our Father-Mother God is Spirit, perfect Spirit, and creates us to express that perfection.
For you and me, the prayer that helps make these facts more widely apparent can be simply a desire to gain a solid conviction of them. God will show us the worthiness of each individual.
Many accounts in the Bible aid in gaining such a conviction. For example, God showed Moses he was competent; then Moses did things he never thought he could do, knowing God was with him. Christ Jesus' teachings and life indicate a certainty that God was his Father and that God was pleased with him (see Matt. 3:17).
In one of his sermons, Jesus tells of God's impartial love, which is like the sun and rain, enfolding everyone (see Matt. 5:45). And he illustrated that in the story of the prodigal son, who certainly had sinned, yet felt his father's continuing love. It was this love that enabled him to finally recognize himself as worthy of being a son.
And think of one of Jesus' followers, Paul. He was abusing and killing people. But he heard God speaking. And then he began preaching a universal worthiness.
Prayer keeps us sure of what is true about everyone - what's spiritually true. Put another way, "Holding the right idea of man in my mind, I can improve my own, and other people's individuality, health, and morals; whereas, the opposite image of man, a sinner, kept constantly in mind, can no more improve health or morals, than holding in thought the form of a boa-constrictor can aid an artist in painting a landscape." Those are the words of Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor in 1908 ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 62).
Most everyone has had times when he or she has felt worthy and valued. Well, that's the voice of God, saying: "You're mine. I made you. You're worthy and I love you. I will always love you." That's God's message, which speaks to everyone.
We can help to open the eyes and ears of young people like Cal to hear God's message of worthiness. To comprehend their self-worth and inherent value. No one is left out.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society