under the surface

As you may know, I am a leader for our local youth program here in Newcastle. We run Youth Street every Saturday and are able to reach out to a lot of ‘un-churched’ young people in the area. We have several different teams for the crew (we call our youth ‘crew’ instead of ‘kids’) to be involved in and I am the co-leader for our Performing Arts Team. It is so much fun and I absolutely love being a part of it.

We recently put on a play that was written by one of my fellow staff members. It was so awesome to see the play take shape from an idea into a full on performance. It was definitely a long and arduous process, but it was beyond worth it.

The play was set under the sea and that made for some really incredible set pieces. We had huge pieces of coral made out of chicken wire and papier mache and jelly fish made out of more papier mache and crepe paper. There were back drops painted like the ocean and a shipwreck made out of cardboard. We made costumes for rainbow fish, a seahorse, a starfish, and an angler fish. Through sleepless nights and a few mental breakdowns, we managed to pull it together. Or, actually, our crew pulled it together. We put our everything into the set and such, but our actors were beyond amazing.

The audience was in awe. Our set glowed fluorescent under the black lights and costuming was perfect. But when those kids opened their mouths it was like everyone was transported.

It was about youth who couldn’t find hope. There was a seahorse who struggled with anxiety and rainbow fish who battled for attention. Each character suffered from something and it was incredible to see these everyday issues brought into the light. Things like depression and anxiety are such taboo topics – no one wants to talk about it and they are ashamed that they fight with these things. Even if someone claims to be depressed they’re labeled as attention seekers or crazy. Our performance was an impactful way to take these types of common struggles and make them easier to talk about. Even the crew who were performing said they could relate to many of the characters within the performance.

The main objective of the performance was to bring hope into these troubling situations. We all have conflict within us; it’s okay to be broken and to need help. It’s okay to feel lonely and lost and confused. The important thing is, is that we know that we are never alone in those situations and that there is always help to be found. It may seem daunting, but the moment that we step out and admit to struggling with something, we take one step closer to recovery. It has become a cliché to say “the first step is admitting you have a problem”, but it’s totally true. When we stir up our courage and say, “Hey, I’m not ok,” we move towards a healing process.

In our play we were able to see hope brought to a hopeless situation. We brought these scary subjects to a level where they didn’t have to be so scary. We could bring hope to young people and their families.

Through the process of putting together this performance, I learned a lot myself. Depression is a lot more common than we realize. Comparison is a lot more serious than we often think. Loneliness is a more of an issue than we think it is. Every single person sill struggle with these types of things at some point – or many points – in their lives.

I believe in a God that brings hope into hopeless situations and light into dark places. He is greater than depression. He is greater than loneliness. He is greater than comparison. He is greater than everything. He wants to take away the dark and scary things out from inside of us. He wants to shed light into every situation.

Know that there is hope. Even when it seems impossible, there is hope. It’s okay to be broken – all of us are. Whatever you are struggling with, you aren’t the first one to go through it. Find someone to talk to. Seek out a safe place. Have hope.

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