Seated among the halo’s of wisdom scattered throughout the high school auditorium, I listen to the statistics from the principal. How seventy percent of his students don’t live in a nuclear family and the systemic disconnect of parents leaves teenagers alone to navigate life’s journey, fuels emotional and  spiritual holes large as the Grand Canyon.

And when he goes on to say that loving God, being a Christian is who he is. That a Bible lays permanently on the table in his office at all times, for anyone who comes seeking. It is a tender moment. The tears ebb gentle like the sea at sunset.

Because I am one of those kids.

I know Christ redeems.

Empathy spreads out like a blanket over me and I remember what it is like to play my instrument for the parents of friends, not my own. To sit waiting for hours on the curb of the high school parking lot after everyone is gone. Wear the same two pairs of pants and three shirts for a whole season. Dream nightmares of law enforcement taking my mother away for selling illegal drugs grown in our back yard.

A tender moment of realization seated there on that bouncy theater seat.

That God answered years of fearful nighttime prayers. Prayers for rescue, safety and provision. Fulfilled the longing of my heart for parents that were like the ones I watched interact with their kids at basketball games, school programs, on field trips, at sleepovers – when I got a mother-in-law.

I thank God for the opportunity to be that kind of parent to my own kids.

Meanwhile, I will say yes to investing in one of those kids like me. God is in the business of transformed lives and I long to see the beauty of His redemption, because our identity lives outside of our circumstances. It resides in the one who made us.

Have you ever been a mentor to a teenager? Tell me about it. The challenges and joys.