I've worked with youth since the fall of 2016, and one of the biggest things I've learned since interning with youth is you have to be there for them at all times. Our youth leader, Shane, has passed that knowledge on to me. He has been there for youth in the middle of the night even.
The biggest thing I've learned is that they face so much more than even I faced in high school, and I have been out since 2015. It's definitely easy to see why teenagers are more anxious and depressed nowadays.
What I have learned in helping with youth is that you have to be there for them in those times. There are so many things that bring about depression in teenagers, including relationships, broken families, and life in general.
Coming from a family where I never knew my dad, I can relate to a lot of those youth. I have faced depression and anxiety in my life. It's good being close to their age because I can relate to them in a way that Shane can't. I can relate to them in a more personal way.
One of the biggest things I tell youth when they are struggling is to pray and read the Bible. There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about anxiety. Jesus talks about it in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:26-34. He tells us not to be anxious about anything. We have to trust in Him.
Another passage that I refer youth to is Philippians 4:6-7. Paul tells us to make our requests known to God. Also, 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast our anxiety on God because He cares so much about us. The God who created the universe cares so much about you and me, and He wants to hear our concerns and anxiety.
When you start to feel anxious or depressed or like God doesn't care, one thing that always comes to my mind is Louie Giglio's message on how God created us. In this message, he talks about Laminin (I challenge all who read to look up this powerful message on YouTube). Laminin is a protein inside of all of us, and it is in the shape of a cross. God created us with His mark in us through laminin.
I want to conclude by saying if you're a youth dealing with anxiety or depression, look to God. Lean on Him. Cry out and cast your anxiety on Him. Trust that God is going to pull you through James 1:2-4 tells us to count it joy when we face trials because they are meant to strengthen our faith.
That is definitely a challenge, even for me. There are going to be times where we can't feel joy. What James means here is that we can have joy in those times because we know that God is going to bring us through. He will never leave or forsake us. I have noticed my own faith grow in Him after coming through those times of anxiety and depression, and you will too.
The key is trusting in God.