I recently got the opportunity to see a production of the the national tour of "Dear Evan Hansen". If you’re not familiar with this musical, I urge you to listen to the music. It’s unforgettable and contains some of the prettiest melodies that have ever been written for the stage. Without giving too much away, the teens in this story are very “connected” in the tech sense, but very, very lonely and unable to cope in person. It’s the natural conclusion of the unnatural connection of social media. However, it’s also not new in any way. More pronounced maybe, but not new.
When I was in high school 20-some years ago, there were people who felt lonely and depressed. It was true of students my parents age and their parents and theirs too.
I’m not qualified to comment on the reasons for these feelings or even the comparative statistics of suicides or depression through the ages. But it does seem that the digital age exacerbates the problem because instead of sitting home alone on a Friday night, teens sit alone and look at all the fun others are having in real time on social media.
The thesis of Dear Evan Hansen is one of hope. For the sake of no spoilers, I’m going to oversimplify the story. The kids bind together in their sadness over a classmate’s death and they are reminded of a few truths:
I am not alone.
I will be found.
Here I was sitting in this cutting edge musical about being a teen in the digital age and I found myself saying, “Hmmmmm…now where have I heard that before? Could it possibly be the gospel message of Jesus from 2,000 years ago?”
If those teens were to go to any Young Life club in the country, they would hear the same message. And not from some fickle social media post, but from an all-powerful, loving, never-changing heavenly Father.
If I’m honest, I felt anxious watching this musical. My oldest is a pre-teen and I couldn’t help thinking, “I don’t want her to have to go to high school and go through everything these characters are dealing with.” But instead of feeling hopeless, it made me realize how important it is for me to instill these gospel truths into my kids’ hearts before they ever get to a place where others will tell them otherwise. And they will tell them otherwise.
I am not alone because I’m filled with the Holy Spirit.
I am enough, because Christ is enough and he saved me.
No matter how far I stray, I will be found.
Download these truths into your heart and into the hearts of your kids. It could just save them from a world of hurt. For we are sending them into a hurting world.