Throughout Cleveland, hundreds of generous teachers, individuals, and organizations are purchasing school supplies to stock the backpacks of children in need as they return to school. In these difficult financial times, these donations are a vital resource for so many families.
But, as someone who spends the majority of my time with children and teens who have experienced trauma, the backpacks that most concern me are the ones that need to be unpacked. These backpacks aren’t left in a locker, or dropped on the floor when a child arrives home. They are carried around 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and impact every encounter and experience the child has. These backpacks are filled with fear, anger, grief, sadness, anxiety, abandonment, neglect, hopelessness, and insecurity.
We all carry them at different seasons of our life; when we lose a loved one, when we go through a difficult relational breakup, when we work in an unhealthy environment, when there is family discord, when we go through financial difficulties, when our spouse or significant other disappoints us, when hopes and dreams do not come to fruition. But, most of us have the coping mechanisms and support systems to carry us through these experiences and, over time, lay down our packs.
These children do not. In a post-pandemic world where there is a shortage of mental health professionals and teachers’ emotional and professional skills have been stretched beyond their limits, there are few who are willing and able to lift the backpacks off these kids by offering them a safe space to process and unload. As one of my clinical supervisors once told me, having one safe person who is willing to listen, can make all the difference in the world. It is not quick answers that these children need, but listening ears, open hearts, and the love of our heavenly Father. To be reminded of who we are and whose we are, despite the circumstances we find ourselves in, is powerful.
Jesus told us in 1 Peter 5, to cast all our anxiety (cares) on Him, because He cares for us. That offer is there for us 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and applies to kids and adults alike. Jesus is telling us to unload our emotional backpacks onto Him. He has already taken on the load for us.
But sometimes, we need Jesus with skin on to help us learn to relinquish our pack. One way we do this at JCLC is through Mentorship Teams.
Would you consider being part of a Mentorship Team for a child or teen?
To learn more about JCLC Mentorship Teams, reach out to us at email@example.com.