Today is To Write Love On Her Arms Day. If you’re not familiar with TWLOHA, you’re missing what is in my opinion one of the most meaningful movements of the church in teen/young adult culture in a generation.
The TWLOHA story is the story of how Jesus moves in the world. It is a story of ordinary people loving each other in extraordinary ways. It is the story of Christ meeting people in the reality of existence, of the crap the world hands us, of the broken and dysfunctional coping strategies we embrace. In the middle of our pain and hopelessness. In the heart of our disbelief.
It’s tempting to just see TWLOHA as something cool and hip and relevant. Because it’s got all the elements of a great story, we gravitate toward it. Many of us live in a world where the TWLOHA story is only a story. And so we relate to it in a purely intellectual way. We are moved by it, but we are not affected by it.
In many ways, we often have the same reaction to the Cross. We buy into the story, we accept it intellectually. But do we really identify with it?
In his book Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell makes the point that the first Christians insisted that when we identify with the Cross, something within us dies and we become a new person. Identifying with something is different than believing it or understanding it. It is accepting the reality of it. Allowing it to shape our identity, our ideas, our behaviors.
It is easy for adults, especially adults in the church, to turn a blind eye to the reality of the pain and brokenness that is wrecking teen culture. Even as a youth leader, directly involved with teens on a weekly, if not daily, basis, I don’t see much of it first-hand. But if we listen, we will hear the undercurrent. We will sense the pain that is so well covered, so masterfully hidden from the world.
Kids experiencing that kind of pain and brokenness generally don’t trust adults. And so it’s hard for us to see what’s going on because they either lie to us, or avoid us, or both. That’s why it’s so important that we equip and support other teens to reach into those dark places in their own culture. Teens who love Jesus and know him and want to love people the way he does.
That’s why TWLOHA is so important. It equips young people to talk to other young people. It opens doors of conversations that might not happen otherwise. It gives old farts like me a platform to tell hurting kids that there are adults who care and who love you and who want to help you get help. And it gives those who have become so good at hiding one less reason to hide.