"If what is repeated is truly what gets remembered, then we should be intentional about the things that are constantly coming out of our mouths to the young people we work with.
This is why my daughters can rap every single line of the closing song to the new Aladdin movie. We printed out the words and all summer Alexa played and played and they listened and listened until every word flowed from their hearts with just as much passion and attitude as Will Smith.
Those moments have made me think about the power of repetition. What am I repeating over and over again that my children will remember? When my kids are older, I wonder which phrases and truths will be remembered and stand out? I’m guessing some of them will be:
Stop being weird.
Any toys left out are getting thrown away.
If you try this food 10 times, then you’ll like it.
Teeth. Potty. Jammies. Bed.
I like you and I love you.
If what is repeated is truly what gets remembered, then we should be intentional about the things that are constantly coming out of our mouths to the young people we work with. What a privilege it is to speak truth and life into these eager young men and women. What if we really measured what we said to them, and deliberately repeated specific phrases over and over until they were internalized and remembered?
I believe that these are five things junior highers needs to hear every day:
1. You are loved.
2. What you do today matters.
3. I am for you.
4. You are not alone.
5. I know you.
Now, if you’ve met a junior high student, you know what their typical response to any of these statements would be: an eye roll with the annoyed utterance, “OK, I knooooow.”
But there is POWER in these five truths.
When students know and actually believe these truths, life as a new teenager can look radically different.
If every junior high student heard they were loved on a daily basis, they might not be so desperate to please the world around them. Love changes everything. God IS love. There’s more love available to them than they could possibly ever receive.
If every junior high student believed that what they did each day mattered, they might live more purposefully, looking for the Kingdom work around them. Opportunities might be grasped, and difficulties might be seen in a different light.
If every junior high student knew they had a champion, they might approach the world around them with confidence, risking more and fearing less. It’s much easier to do a trust fall when you know people will catch you.
If every junior high student could sigh with relief, knowing that they’re not alone, maybe they would bravely include others who might be fighting the fear of isolation.
If every junior high student felt known and valued – conceivably their worth could be found in who God created them to be, instead of what they have done.
These truths are not original. God has whispered them to souls throughout His Word.
As influencers in the lives of young people around us, let’s creatively integrate these truths into the smallest of conversations.
YOU ARE LOVED! Let’s write the truths with expo markers on their bathroom mirrors.
WHAT YOU DO TODAY MATTERS! Let’s whisper these truths to them as we turn their lights off at night.
I AM FOR YOU! Let’s chant these truths loudly as they leave the car to run into school.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Let’s print these truths out and rap the words as we get jiggy wit it.
I KNOW YOU!
Junior highers need our words of truth. If we want them to remember, we have to be repeating.
Cindy Branton is the social media manager for CIY’s Believe and SuperStart programs. She is also the proud parent of Brielle, Braelyn and Briarly. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.