We’ve all heard the stories. Someone, somewhere told someone else” they’d never amount to anything”.
There are those stories of a person who believed the lie.
There are those stories of a person who fought to discredit it.
And then there are those stories of a person who was encouraged.
I’d like you to meet Urn.
Actually, his real name is Aaron, but for some unknown reason, our youth kids started calling him Urn and for probably the first three months that he started coming to our small group, I didn’t know this. I spent several moments in wonderment that someone would name their child after a vessel that holds ashes. I don’t even know if Urn likes being called Urn. Urn, if you’re reading this, leave me a comment and let me know if you like being called Urn okay?
When I found out what his real name was, I realized one thing.
Never take anything for granted with teenagers. Including the fact they they are confident in themselves. I’ve found that many of the teenagers I know, just need a kind encouraging word sometimes.
I’m introducing you to Urn today because he is special. Urn is special because he is one of those stories that could have gone horribly wrong. You see, for one reason or another, Urn had dropped out of school in his senior year. For one reason or another, his parents either hadn’t required him to go back or had tried and it hadn’t worked with him. Urn was just at a point where he didn’t care much about school.
And to make matters worse, in a freak accident at youth one night while playing a game (that as I recall involved plastic trash bags on the floor and some sort of slippery goo), he fell and broke his leg. This required him to be on crutches for a couple of months and Urn went into depression. Since he had no motivation to return to school with both legs working, now he really wasn’t about to go and struggle through the halls on crutches.
I decided it was time for myself and these guys (our youth leader guys) to get involved.
We started talking to Urn each week, somewhat being pests, but also encouraging him. “You need to go back to school, you’re smart enough Urn!” and things similar to that were said each week. After a couple of weeks, Urn gave in to us, (probably just to shut us up), but maybe, just maybe, he began to believe something better about himself.
The next day I received a phone call from our receptionist, “Katie a young gentleman is here to see you”. When I asked his name and she told me Aaron, I was confused. Then I remember that was his real name!
Urn came into my office and had just been upstairs to our alternate high school where he had just gotten himself enrolled. You’re allowed to work at your own pace at this school and therefore, can usually make up for lost time, if you set your mind to it.
I told him how proud I was of him and sitting across my desk from me, Urn beamed. Urn’s a quiet kid most of the time, but when he speaks up, something pretty profound usually comes out.
“They said I only need a few credits to graduate,” Urn told me, “and that I can probably finish and graduate in a couple of months.”
Once, again, I encouraged him and praised him. Each week after that when Urn showed up at our small group on Monday nights, the leader guys slapped him on the back and Mr. Wonderful made it a point to acknowledge Urn in front of the group and tell him how proud we were of him.
Cuz frankly, we were super proud of him!
One day, the principal of Urn’s school called me for help with something and she told me that the students at her school referred to Urn as “You know, the big smart kid”. He was setting records for finishing classes in no time flat. I was amazed and so happy!
One night Urn walked into small groups, came in the kitchen where I was cooking mass amounts of food, and handed me this.
I almost cried with joy. I grabbed some tape and stuck it up on the refrigerator, along with other pictures of our kids, and other youth that have ventured through our house and sent us graduation pictures.
You should have seen Urn’s face.
“I made the refrigerator?!!” he asked with the incredulous tone of voice.
Since then, Urn has enrolled in college for fall, and is well on his way to becoming a successful young man, all due to a little encouraging words from people who care.
And to this day, that picture is on our refrigerator, a reminder to us all of what a few kind, encouraging words can do to someone who may need it.
And we think he looks pretty fetching in baby blue besides!
You never know when the words you speak will make all the difference in a young person’s life.
Do you know a teenager, or anyone else that needs some encouragement today?
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