For high school kids dating relationships are of the utmost importance. Listening to a girl talk about her dating history is I think the most telling in her opinions of herself. It is fascinating to me how coveted a relationship is in high school. I talked about Valentines Day from a perspective of a high school kids last week with excerpts of what kids said about it on twitter. They are dying to be chosen, to be loved and accepted by someone of the opposite sex, but at the same time have the hardest time believing that they actually could love them. It truly breaks my heart.
For the last few months, almost every time I hung out with a high school friend, I asked them, “What do you think your friends and peers at school need to hear?” I got responses back about drinking, about gossip, about bullying. But the one common thing I heard every time was relationships. How do I honor God in my relationship? How far can I go physically ? Why are there so many rules? Why aren’t there more rules? I don’t know how to find this in the Bible… On and on.
So at Fossil Young Life we decided this semester to really pray about it. And that led us to wanting to answer questions that kids we actually asking. We decided to dedicate the month of February in campaigners, to be about Relationships.
My initial reaction was somewhat uncomfortable. Knowing none of us are really qualified to teach on relationships. My fear is that it would open a huge can of worms. There is so much feeling wrapped in the topic of relationships: hurt, anger, bitterness, pain. But we still felt very strongly that it needed to be talked about.
So here is what we did:
Campaigners week One: We split into girls and guys. We do this most of the time in our campaigners. We named them ZEST for the girls MEAT for the guys. They are ‘secret’ acronyms not to be shared with the opposite sex (adds some excitement). But in ZEST and MEAT we talked about relationships. The guys talked in more of a discussion about lust. The Girls watched Rob Bell’s Nooma video Flame and discussed in small groups about it.
At the end of this time both the girls and the guys wrote questions to the opposite sex. Guys wrote questions for the girls. Girls wrote questions to the guys. Not to one specifically but all of the opposite sex in an effort to understand why they act certain ways. That alone was fascinating. Here are some of the questions asked:
Why do girls create drama to make their relationship seem stronger or try to get the guy to give them more attention?
What do you see in jerks for “the challenge?” Why do you date tools? Why do you say you want a good guy but you date bad guys?
Do girls have the same problems with lust that guys do? Or do you think its ok for girls to lust after guys and wrong for guys to lust after girls?
Why do girls wear such suggestive clothes? Why do girls wear make up so hard core?
What keeps you from asking us on a date? we know your crushing on us, so it doesnt hurt to ask.
Why do you flirt with me when you have no intentions of dating me?
Why do guys feel like they cant be emotional in a relationship?
Why do you chase after pretty, popular girls who hurt you, when amazing girls are here & are willing to love you the right way?
Why does it seem like guys just want sexual stuff?
Real gritty honest questions.
Campaigners Week Two: We met in the separate groups (MEAT and ZEST) again. Leaders had the questions and we spent the entire time trying to answer them. We really tried to set it up in a way that wasn’t blaming. I wouldn’t let any girl start a sentence with “Other Girls do that” or “They….” We really wanted people to think about where they do this in their own lives.
We would read the question, and then first say, “Do girls do that?” Usually it was an overwhelming Yes. Then we moved to “Why do you do that?” And that is where the most fascinating discussion happened.
It revealed a lot of insecurity. A lot of doubt, fear, hurt, crys for attention, being unable to believe someone could love them, or very false beliefs about the opposite sex. Girls would say, “All Guys….” “All guys wont stay with me if I am not physical with them” “All guys are jerks” I questioned them on their reasoning, and it lead to really great conversation.
From what I heard about the guys discussion, there was a lot of disconnect. They were unaware of what their actions did to girls. They did not know how to go about answering them. But they did, with the help of the leaders.
They key to this week was answering the questions with the leaders. So they did not answer out of anger, but discussed and tried to answer as gently as possible.
Campaigners Week Three: The big group Campaigners. Guys and Girls together to answer one another’s questions. We had 46 kids crammed into a basement. We had them sit on opposing sides of the room. The leaders had typed out the answers and printed them off, cut them and gave each question to different kids who were there when we answered them, to read.
We took turns answering, two guys then a girl (since girls answered in paragraphs and had far less questions to answer) (Differences between men and women :)) We had them read the question and answer twice. There was nothing more than listening until all the questions were finished.
At the end we made a response time. You could respond in three different ways starting with either:
- Thank you
- I’m Sorry
- I will/ I will Commit to
This was an incredible thing to watch. Guys that never share, speaking up to the girls appologizing, committing to be different, thanking one another for vulnerability. Girls who were doing the same.
Here are a few things shared:
I will commit to trying to be one of the good guys. -Guy
I commit to not looking at you like an object. -Guy
Sorry for pre-judging you because of what someone did to me in the past. -Girl
Sorry for making you feel like you have to wear hard core makeup and dress provocatively to be beautiful. -Guy
Sorry for trying to get attention in the wrong way. -Girl
Thank you for having high standards. – Guy
I will, for real, do this. -Guy
It was beautiful to watch.
Next Week: We are going to be in separate groups again (ZEST and MEAT) and are going to look solely at what the bible says about these questions. We have talked about having a time when leaders share- the guy leaders with the girls, the girl leaders with the guys. We don’t know how long this series will go. It was intended only for the month of February. But we have had kids asking to talk about it all Semester.
I am still fascinated by what is normal in high school. Its normal for girls to be treated a certain way. Normal for guys to not care. Normal. I am still learning about them. But am convinced that the Lord will move mountains at the school when kids start living differently by his power. I can’t wait.