High school students come in and out of my office all day long. Daily, I ask them how they are doing and their answers are usually the same:
It is not easy to be a teenager in 2019.
They sit on the couches and beanbag cushions and study AP Psychology, plan a fundraising drive, or complain about the Calculus test they just took. They are looking for respite from a chaotic world and my office gives them a little slice of comfort in their hectic high school lives.
As I’m turning off the light one day, I notice it. An origami paper crane. So tiny and intricate. A pink splash perched on my light switch box. A couple of days later there is another one. Little tiny cranes, multiplying.
They bring a smile to my face.
But one day, I take a second look. One of the paper cranes is headless. Someone has taken the time to rip the head off.
This is just the beginning. Daily, more paper cranes are beheaded. Mystery hangs in the air. One of the senior girls writes a note next to a family of paper cranes. “Please stop cutting off the heads. You wouldn’t cut off a mother crane’s head, would you?”
Apparently, the murderer would.
“Wasn’t Ferdinand in here last period?” they ask me. “Is he the one cutting off the heads?” Speculations and guesses begin to fill my office.
“Michaela was the last one leaving the room after lunch, I bet she is the guilty party.”
The accusations fly, but no one confesses.
The paper crane violence continues to escalate. A paper guillotine is fashioned, and a crane, neck red with ink, has been executed. I come in one day to discover a group of cranes hanging by nooses. A paper ax is found in the act of cutting off the head of another helpless crane.
The students come in groups with phones in their hands during break, lunch and after school to see the latest in the crane saga as Instagram and snapchat are filled with strange crane happenings.
This is why I love to work with teens!
You teens are creative, intelligent, passionate, resourceful and just plain fun! I love my job and the fact that I get to work with you day in and day out. The crane caper had us all laughing and bonding as we speculated on who the culprit might be.
However, I’ve learned that the joking around that you do is often hiding assaults that are much more serious than the demise of a paper crane.
Death of a dream.
Hearts ripped apart.
A relationship in ruins.
Daily, I see the fall-out from the attacks on young people that I love–depression, anxiety, loneliness, shame and addiction. I watch you try to escape from your pain through a variety of methods-romance, academic success, or mindless TV show bingeing to name a few. In conversation after conversation, I hear you confess with tears in your eyes about your porn addiction or your eating disorder. You speak of wanting to give up and considering ending it all.
It was many months before the mystery of the crane killer was solved. The enemies of our paper cranes were two good-natured 11th grade guys who have a great sense of humor and a lot of creativity.
But, there is no laughter about the one who is out to decimate young men and young women.There is an Enemy who seeks to kill and steal and destroy. He is at work every single day in the life of every teenager I have ever met, just as he is in mine.
It’s important for us to recognize the way he attacks.
To be aware of the accusations he hurls our way.
To listen for and reject the lies that sound so sweet.
The enemy comes to us to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) But, the Rescuer comes to bring us life–full and abundant life! Let’s listen wisely to the voices that we hear. Let’s choose to listen to the voice that gives us life.