A large theme of ministry with young people these days centers on the problem of forgiveness. Many believe that God can forgive others who do horrible things but they don’t often believe that God’s forgiveness can be offered to themselves. Some think that they are such horrible sinners that God couldn’t possibly want anything to do with them.

Some of this bleeds over into issues of discernment. God couldn’t possibly offer them a career that will make them feel fulfilled. Some parents even get in the way hoping that sons and daughters will go into the corporate world for the wrong reasons. I’ve seen many a fight over the years between parents and children center on this. The child just wants mom and dad to be proud of their values that were passed to them by their folks. Mom and dad worry about financial stability and the possibility of grandchildren living in safety. My favorite story around this comes from one of my classmates when we were seniors. His mom was over his dorm room and a story on the news came on about idealistic young people who were just beginning to volunteer a year of their lives to service. My friend had just applied to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. and was hoping to tell his mom over dinner. But then…

Mom: “When will today’s bleeding heart, idealistic, young people stop with their save-the-world-attitude and go out and put on a shirt and tie and get a real job!”

Son: “Maybe now’s not the best time to tell Mom that I just applied to JVC?”

Young people often get mixed messages from us. Perhaps our message is simply that it’s OK for them to not always do things the right way. That trying something new and exploring while their young is often a way to figure out just who you are.

A recent episode of Glee, suggested that no matter what these misfit student could do there was still something more that people expected from them. They were marked as failures before their lives had even taken shape. Rachel, one of the stars, writes this original song that tells the tale:

With student shootings making headlines, Matt Stone may have hit the nail on the head with what is often wrong with the pressure that many students feel throughout adolescence in this clip from the film “Bowling for Columbine.”

Today, let us pray for a more forgiving culture. Not one that doesn’t push people to be their best, but rather one that allows people to be who they are and not who we wish they would be. For that is who God calls each one of us to become. Amen.