It’s that time of year again!
I don’t know about you, but the start of a new school year feels more like New Year’s than the January 1st’s New Year’s does. Everything feels fresh. New. Like someone hit update and restart.
I don’t get that feeling at New Year’s. I never have.
Maybe it’s because by the time NYE rolls around I feel like an old tired dog. Christmas and all its hype are over. It’s STILL cold and wintery. And in Minnesota, there’s A LOT of winter left with not much to look forward to unless you icefish, ski, snowmobile, or play hockey. I do none of those things. So I keep my cocoa close and try to push away the knowledge that the next few months are going to bring in a lot more cold, ice, and snow.
But in the fall, at the start of the new school year, it’s different. It’s like the whistle announcing the beginning of a new football game. Your eyes are glued to the field as you watch the kicker race up to the tee, bring his leg back, and then send the ball sailing into the air to commence the first play of the game.
As a plant nerd, the new, fresh feeling could be due to the transition of seasons–summer flowers fading as vibrantly colored leaves start to fill the trees. Or as a mom, gathering new clothes, shoes, backpacks, and pencils. Or (most likely) it could be due to me looking forward to having all the boys off at school and getting the house to myself to write in.
I’m not really sure, but every fall there’s an undeniable crackle of anticipation in the air. Excitement. Hope. It’s electric and invigorating.
Like the game is 0-0 and anyone can win.
Here in the Olson house, this fall is unlike any other fall we’ve faced.
First of all, because this fall we took Camron to college. For several weeks I was consumed with what we needed to purchase and gather to set him and his dorm room up, to create his home-away-from-home.
It’s odd having him gone. This mama’s heart is still very tender, and my tears are still very much at the surface. But I couldn’t be more excited for him! He’s embarking on a new season of life to make his God-given dreams become his reality.
The second reason is that we now have a college student, 2 high school students, and an elementary student.
Let’s just say, my new mantra is: Don’t Blink.
But for some, this fall, this new school year, isn’t exciting. Instead, it’s terrifying, painful, and full of anxiety.
For these students, the game might be 0-0, but their odds of winning are slim. And they know it. Sadly, many of these students have already given up, before they even get onto the field. Some are determined to give it their best, despite the odds, to do better than last year. Others are going to take advantage of this new year and fight for victory.
- A disability or delay in development causing them to be behind in one area or another
- For example dyslexia, autism, learning disability, difficulty with processing information
- A change in the family
- Sick parent, the death of a loved one, divorce
- A financial crisis
- Loss of or no job, massive debt
- A change in school
- Due to a move, school transfer, or the natural transition from one school level to the next
- A history of being bullied
- They feel more like the ball being kicked than a player on the field
- A deep loneliness
- Due to the lack of a real friend or isolation from abuse
- A consuming depression that’s impossible to escape
- Evidence by cutting and other methods of self-harm
Whatever the reason, a new school year isn’t the opportunity for a fresh start like it is for others.
Would you pray for these students with me?
And the other students who
- Seem to have it all together but are dying inside
- Laugh with their friends but feel alone
- Are loved by many but hate themselves
- Have the perfect body (male and female) but struggle with an eating disorder
- Get good grades but still feel like they aren’t good enough
- Are the star of the show but suffer from crushing insecurity
- Mask their hurts, pains, fears with substance abuse
- Feel so unloved and unloveable they give themselves away to anyone who asks
- Are tired of fighting, striving, caring and fantasize about ending it all
It doesn’t matter which campus these students are on–elementary school, middle school, or high school; college or university; trade or community school.
Our students need our prayers, support, and encouragement.
They need mentors who are willing to coach and guide them; able to speak Truth and give tough love. Mentors who are willing to help them address their injuries and help them get back on the field.
Did you know that the Church is losing 45-60% of this next generation?
That’s those who grew up in the church, walk away, and never come back. That doesn’t even take into account those who don’t go to church.
Are you willing to step up? Are you willing to stand in the gap for this generation? Are you willing to open your heart to them?
Even if this is not an area God has called you to, would you commit to praying for them? And those of us who mentor them?
I ask because my heart bleeds for this generation. And I believe everyone deserves a chance to be on the field to contribute to the victory. Everyone deserves room to change and grow. Everyone deserves an opportunity to celebrate the new year.
And in the process, everyone deserves a chance to meet Jesus and engage in a relationship with Him. To be discipled and learn about who God has made them to be.
Would you join me in praying for this to be the best year yet?