This year I went back to the classroom–kind of. I’m teaching a senior English class at our kids’ new school. It’s block schedule so it meets every other day at 7:40 in the morning. I’m not at school all day, every day, but I do have my own class of seniors.
When I first accepted the position, I felt excited. After all, I have 2 kids in junior high and one in high school. I write books for teens. Teaching at Lutheran South felt like a fantastic chance to plug in with the group of people I spend so much time praying for.
Except–then I got my class list. This is when I remembered that I usually write for teen girls. My class was–ha ha, Lord–mostly teen boys. Fourteen of my 17 students would be senior guys. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure about this teaching thing.
For the past couple years, I’ve really been living in the world of teen girls. When I wrote Shine, I had interviewed so many girls and heard about their struggles with anxiety and depression. They’ve been sold a lie that being cute and compliant would give them a true self worth. Shine is the message for these girls that their identity in Christ is where they’ll find the deep acceptance they’re craving.
But, teen boys? Somehow, while encouraging teen girls, teen boys had become a mysterious problem. I hadn’t meant for this to happen. After all, I have two boys of my own who will be teens soon. They’re totally not mysterious or problems. And yet, in my time with teen girls, I had started to see their high school counterparts as cocky and selfish and a bit scary.
But, of course, high school boys are not like that at all. A month of getting to know my class of boys, and now I remember: high school boys are funny and incredibly loyal and curious and (who knew?) sensitive. My class has tackled hard writing assignments, studied Elizabethan plays, and talked about God and their struggles and what stresses them out.
This week, I asked the boys what kind of book they want to read. Because I can see that I need to write a book for these teens too. They said they want to hear about dealing with peer pressure. Everyone’s telling them to be a “good guy” and that looks different to their parents and coaches than it does to their friends. Thanks to social media, and all the internet has to offer, peer pressure is unbelievable for our high school boys.
And so, this is the message I’m sharing with them–strength. Not the world’s kind of strength, but the real strength they have from God. These young men have the same power that raised Christ from the dead inside their souls. This power is what will help them stay close to God.
This is what they need.
This is what I want to write a book about.