It’s easy to forget our pain from the past. Maybe a childhood where we were picked on or bullied. And now we’ve grown up into strong men and women with scars from our past being only that--scars. And we kind of forget about where they came from. But there is a new generation coming up and some of these younger ones are having the same things done to them that we might have had done to us. We’ve escaped our broken days of adolescence but there are kids walking through that stuff right now. Imagine what it felt like when you were some scrawny little dude or dudette and an adult stopped to notice you and encourage you. Remember how great it made you feel? To see that someone big and important stopped a minute to talk to you.
I’ll never forget when my guitar teacher said that I had a good ear for music. I was probably 13 and music was the most important thing in my life. So this was the GREATEST compliment I could have received. It boosted my self-confidence when I had none. And my guitar teacher was someone I admired greatly for his skill and the fact that he played in a band. I still greatly admire my friend George Sabol’s playing. It means so much to a kid when you stop and speak some life, love, and encouragement into them. These simple words were spoken to me around twenty years ago and they still strengthen me (Thanks, George!)
I’m not saying to go out and join some mentoring group, I mean you can if you want, but just be an encourager when you see the opportunity. I’ve written before about the high incidence in suicide rates and these numbers are sadly and extremely high in our younger generation. You don’t know that little dude’s story that just walked into Barnes & Noble and ordered a quiche with his earbuds and Slipknot shirt on. He might have a single parent that works all day and he has to get around on buses after school by himself. Maybe that little quiche is his home cooked family meal. Maybe the only thing keeping that kid holding on is the music streaming through his headphones. We really have to remember we were once that little dude in some way and we have to remember what it would mean to go up to him and give him some encouragement. If we could pick up a healthy challenge it should be to try our best to speak life into people as often as we can.
Now it turns out my new friend Kevin (Slipknot shirt kid) listens to awesome music like Slayer and plays bass and drums in a band. I got to encourage him to chase his dream because my band got to play warped tour and have our music on iTunes. “All of a sudden, you’re signing autographs. Dream big man and go for it.” Kevin is 13. The same age I was when some awesome words of life were poured into me. As far as the above back story, I have no idea what Kevin’s home life is about. But I do know he was wearing a cool shirt and he listens to cool music. A high-five later I saw him standing by some books with a smile on his face.
Writing something like this is kind of difficult because it can come off as self-righteous and very look-at-me-and-my-good-deeds. But the fact is, you can’t relate to theory as much as you can example. And when you relate is when you do. It’s ok to go encourage some people. I just showed you that it is.