My younger daughter had a horrible week last week. Every day I would send her off to school, praying it would be a good day, and every day she would come home upset. There were enough tears shed in my house last week to fill an ocean.
But then Saturday rolled around, and she had a day where she was seen. Other adults and some of her peers saw who she really is and liked her for it. It was amazing how much her attitude changed. We got smiles instead of tears, laughter instead of complaints.
Because being seen, being known, brings joy. Being seen is something that we all want. We want someone, anyone, to see through the masks we often wear to see the real us and to like us for it.
And when you're a teenager, that might be more important than at any other time in your life. Teens are bombarded with messages that make them feel like they don't measure up. So often they feel like they're not smart enough, not pretty enough, not popular enough, and they feel as if it's impossible to just be themselves.
As parents, we can talk until we're blue in the face, reminding our kids that they are loved and that they are special. Don't get me wrong, that's important. Our kids need to know that they are loved unconditionally in our homes. But our kids also need people, especially peers, in their lives who see them, who know them, and who like them for it. They need people they can be real with. They need people who aren't going to turn away when they make a mistake. They need to be seen.
So, here's the challenge: Are we raising kids that see others? Are we raising kids who can look behind the mask and really see the person behind it? And are we investing that kind of energy in our relationships with our kids' friends?
Making sure every teenager in your life is seen, is truly known, may be the most important thing we can do for them. Because that's what God does for us. He sees us. He knows us. And He loves us anyway. If we can follow His example, we can bring joy not just to the teenagers in our lives but to everyone we meet.
Because everyone wants to be seen.