A Mother Dispels the Myth of the Lazy, Selfish, and Arrogant Teenager
Hurricane Harvey came barreling through the Houston and surrounding areas with its mighty force and then just stopped and decided to hang around….for several days! The amount of water dumped in that area was unbelievable. The amount of people that were affected by that water was unbelievable. My family was one of the fortunate and oh so blessed families that did not get any water in our home. Because of this good fortune, we felt God leading us to get out and help others that were affected by the water. So out we went. What I found was life-changing.
As we went into homes of strangers, people we did not know, there was sadness, sorrow, diligence, determination, grit, and hope. As you looked into their eyes you saw gratitude, defeat, devastation, and courage. I was amazed at how you worked along side these people as if you had known them for years, as if they were family. At first you carefully sorted through rubble trying to show respect and reverence for precious years of memories and heirlooms that were taken down to muddy, soggy remnants. But you soon realized that the work needing to be done was to move that wet, smelly material to the outside and to get it out as quickly as possible. Through tears and determination these people trudged forward hauling and throwing memory after memory, piece after piece into the ditch or street side.
It is here that I noticed the teenagers. Too many of our teenagers today have the reputation of being lazy, selfish, and arrogant. What I saw were teenagers helping people they didn’t know, receiving nothing in return except sore muscles and dirty, wet clothing. These teens worked long, hard hours pulling out soggy furniture, soaking mattresses, and mushy sheetrock. They pulled apart kitchen and bathroom cabinets and hauled appliances. These teens were not lazy, not thinking about themselves at all. I saw them allowing Jesus to use them throughout those days. And it was days. I didn’t see teens losing interest like they do with some activities after one day of hard work in those wet, humid houses. They kept coming back, day after day.
One group of young men that I saw giving so selflessly was two teens, Justin and Dean. Justin is a freshman in college and Dean is a sophomore in high school. They weren’t afraid to get dirty. They weren’t afraid to work long, hot, messy, wet hours. They were the hands and feet of Jesus over and over helping these families. Their work ethic was unbelievable. One day I was especially proud of them (and they are not even my own children) as we were to cook and feed for families in a neighborhood. So, Justin wore a new shirt he paid for himself. The houses needed to be bleached. He didn’t come there to bleach houses nor was he prepared. He did not hesitate for one second because he was needed. He knew the work needed to be done and he went right in to those houses in that brand new shirt with those bleach bottles of spray. He didn’t think of himself.
On another day, there was a house that sat for about two weeks after the hurricane when it was brought to our attention that tear out had not been done on the house and help was needed. This house was very moldy since it had sat, with all that moisture still in it, for several weeks. Dean worked and worked to get the floors, walls, cabinets and counters out of that house. He didn’t let nails or hardware, mold or stench stand in his way either. Both of those teens worked hard for days in houses that weren’t theirs, in houses where no relatives lived, in houses that were smelly beyond comprehension, in houses full of muck. I have never seen teenagers work as hard, or as long as these two teens worked. Their willingness to serve, to step forward time and time again fills my heart with appreciation for their love of the Lord. It was seen in the work they completed day after day. Their parents have raised two boys to be compassionate, to have a serving heart and to be willing to help others in times of need. Most importantly, their parents raised two boys to show their love of the Lord. These two teens are just a small example of many other teens who stepped forward during this time and served as well. I also saw younger children serving by walking the streets passing out cold water. There may be teens that are lazy, selfish, and arrogant in today’s times, but thankfully, there are teens who are willing to serve.
I won’t forget the look in the people’s eyes that we helped during that time. I won’t forget the muck, mess and devastation. I won’t ever forget that smell. But mostly, I won’t forget those teens, being the hands and feet of Jesus and working right along side everyone else; not because their parents told them to, but because they wanted to do it themselves.