New year is a time of paradox, when we and our mentees may need to hear this simple truth again. It’s a time of hope and exciting new plans, but it can also feel overwhelming. It’s important to recognise both ends of the emotional spectrum that we all experience; especially for teenagers, whose hormones physically make it all the more pronounced and extreme.
The Bible is full of prayers and laments about things that have gone wrong, the presence of enemies and God’s apparent absence or silence. We should not pretend that our fears do not exist.
Courage and fear are not opposites. You can be scared out of your skin while still being a true hero. We need to recognise our fears so God’s perfect love can help us tackle them. Try not to judge, advise or solve your mentee’s fears too much or they won’t open up or come to you when it gets really serious. Most fears are irrational, but still powerful.
Ask (and also answer!) some of these questions:
- What animal best represents fear for you?
- Are you mostly happy?
- How often do you feel sad?
- When was the last time you cried?
- What is the opposite of fear?
- Is there a good type of sadness?
- What scares you about the coming year?
- What do you think God would say about our fears?
Unless you suffer from lepidopterophobia (Google it), there’s nothing less scary than a beautiful, fluttering butterfly! Draw some simple butterflies and ask your mentee to label them with any fears they have, particularly for the coming year. On one wing, ask them to write a score out of ten to express how worried they are about that fear.
Talk about what causes their fear. Ask them to jot down around the butterfly things that make them feel better, distract them from it, tackle it or help them cope. Ensure the ideas come from them, not you. After a positive discussion, ask them to write a score out of ten on the other wing to express how they now feel about it. Hopefully, they will see that, by sharing and talking about it, it no longer scares them quite so much.
Pray together and allow them to symbolically circle, colour or cross out the butterflies.
As part of your discussion, guide your mentee to come up with a few rules of engagement for dealing with fears, for example:
- For every fear, I will think of a joy or hope to counterbalance it.
- Whenever I think about fears, my last thought must be positive.
- I will avoid thinking about fears when I am tired.
- If I feel stressed and scared, I’ll text [Name].