It gets better
The following is a sermon Pastor Sarah Scherschligt delivered on the project:
In the past month, at least four teenagers have committed suicide nationwide, in part, it’s believed, because of bullying. All four teenagers were teased and harassed for being, or acting, "gay.” The response to this rash of suicides has been widespread and varied.
One response that has gone viral, thanks to YouTube, is the "It Gets Better” project. This project invites LGBT adults to tell their stories to teens that are struggling with their sexuality and with the teasing, loss of self-esteem and depression that often accompanies that struggle. The project’s message is simple: It gets better.
The gay men who started the project share the difficulties they went through with their families, their church and their peers at school as they grew up. And they paint the vision of their life now -- fulfilled, happy, in community and beloved by their families -- in order to give hope to those who can’t imagine the future. Their point is basic: It gets better.
I know that in this congregation we hold a variety of opinions about sexuality. Many of us think it isn’t appropriate to talk about this issue in church. I get that, I really do. But all week I just kept thinking, what if that were one of our kids who committed suicide? Wouldn’t we be heartbroken that they didn’t know — that we didn’t tell them: We love you, and it gets better?
Of course, LGBT teenagers aren’t the only ones who are bullied. According to our high schoolers, students perceived to be "fat,” Asian students, female students, nerdy students, students who lack self-confidence in any way, are all potential targets for bullying.
High school can be a terribly difficult time of self-discovery, no matter what your particular difference is, and sadly, for many of our kids, differences aren’t tolerated.
For too many struggling high schoolers, the future looks bleak. And when the future looks bleak, we all need people to remind us that there is a different vision -- a bright vision of a different kind of future.
"It gets better.” It’s a phrase that, at its heart, is about vision. That message inspires a person to look forward from the difficulty she is currently in to the blessedness that can be hers in the future.
If you are on the financial brink, it gets better. If you are a social outcast, it gets better. If your relationship is a struggle, it gets better. If you are hurting with the pain of a grief you don’t think you can bear, it gets better.
It’s a message not only for our children who suffer but for everyone stuck in a tough rut. It gets better.
It’s the message we read in our Psalm: "Take delight in the Lord who shall give you your heart’s desire.” It’s the message to the church that was in turmoil that we just read in 2 Timothy: "But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.”
It’s the risen Christ’s message to a hurting world. Because Jesus lives, we know it gets better.
It gets better. Do you believe it? Do you trust it? And can you show it?
It gets better -- thanks be to Jesus Christ -- Amen!
Originally posted Oct 15, 2010, at The Barefoot Pastor. Republished with permission of the author. Editor’s note: In September the "It Gets Better Project" was launched as a video outreach directed at young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people who are the victims of harassment and bullying. Find a link to Sarah Scherschligt’s blog "The Barefoot Pastor” at Lutheran Blogs.