As a recent college graduate, I am so not far removed from high school to forget the excitement, anticipation, and flat-out stress that accompanied the weeks preceding each high school dance. It is easy for young people to let their minds float away from their ever-so-fascinating homework to imaginings of fulfilled dreams and anxious questions. Will he ask me? Will anyone ask me?
Looking for proof
The groups are set. A nice dress is painfully hunted down and purchased from a stock of (as my 16-year-old sister so accurately put it) dresses the length of t-shirts.
Whether or not the young man or woman has asked or accepted an invitation, a question still lies hidden in that precious teenage heart, “Am I good enough to be loved by someone?”
Youth want proof. In the back of their minds, there often exists an unspoken set of beliefs. If someone asks me to a dance, it will prove that I’m pretty, handsome, funny, or good enough for someone to like being with me. If no one wants to go with me, they must not think I’m worth it.
Our value is defined by God
What is difficult to realize in the midst of this emotional whirlwind is the fact that a person’s value is not defined by whether he or she has a date to a dance. One who has been baptized has been made a new creation, a child of God. Our worth has been defined by the God who so believed us to be worth it that He gave His only Son to die and rise so that we could live. How beautiful a reassurance for your children and for you!
I’m not saying that every junior or senior is experiencing this situation as a major school dance approaches. What I am saying, though, is that it might be good to give your child a little extra encouragement during the next few weeks. Let them know that you’re proud of them. Let them know that you love them. It may be just the reassurance they need to hear.
(Sr. Mary Esther, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sr. Mary was previously Laura Downey, Theology Teacher, Dowling Catholic High School)