I’d heard murmurings of 13 Reasons Why through Facebook and friends. I'd heard my sister say, "it's the biggest thing right now" so I was intrigued and decided to see what all the talk was about. What I watched on Netflix hit me like a ton of bricks.
Based on a teenage girl who takes her life, the series touches on issues such as bullying, drugs, alcohol, relationships and suicide. Before her suicide, the girl (Hannah) makes 13 recordings that tell 13 reasons why she took her life, and in turn these recordings are passed around to the 13 people who played a part in her death.
The series, whilst extremely difficult to watch, was named the most popular series in Netflix history due to its relevance to bullying and suicide, so it can't be ignored that young people are watching and that, in fact, many are living through these very issues.
Our youth are living in an age where they are never disconnected. No longer do they go from school to home and switch off, instead they are going from school to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter and being bombarded with messages they don't know how to process or navigate.
As I watched the series my heart broke. It broke for all the teenagers who have to go to school every day and feel anxious. It broke for the ones who hate who they are, and for those who don’t want to get up in the morning because they know what's before them. It broke for the girls who feel they need to take off one more item of clothing just to get one more like and follow on Instagram, and it broke for the boys who feel they have to act a certain way to be liked or to fit in. It broke for the kid that just wants to be noticed, and for the kid that just wants to be invisible, and for all those who have ever believed that ending their life was the answer.
As I watched the last episode, which is highly graphic, I was overwhelmed and honestly had to look away because it was too confronting. I realized though that I couldn't just 'look away' from the battles of our young people. I couldn't just look away from their struggles and I couldn't just look away from the reality that some face every day. Instead I’ve been given a mandate to rise up!
Isaiah 60:1-3 speaks to us all, “Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you. For see, darkness will cover the earth. Much darkness will cover the people. But the Lord will rise upon you, and His shining-greatness will be seen upon you. Nations will come to your light. And kings will see the shining-greatness of the Lord on you."
We are called not to stand idly by, not to look away, but to rise up. The youth are our future! So even if you don’t have much interaction with young people in your everyday, PRAY for them - it's as simple as that. They need our prayers. Prayers for wisdom as they navigate through their messy every day, prayers that they find hope in a world filled with hopelessness, prayers for their schools and prayers for us, the youth leaders. That we may continually be led by the Spirit, in building a place for them to feel included, encouraged and empowered, and that our words and actions will always be pointing them back to a loving God, a hope and a future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marika has been part of the C3 Kingscliff family for 3 years.
Marika and her husband of 3 years, Baden, are youth pastors of the amazing Next Gen youth ministry.
She graduated from University with a Bachelor of Social Work/Arts and currently works as an after school care coordinator at Pottsville Beach Ps.
She loves Jesus, her husband and seeing young people discover the purpose God has for their lives.