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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Am...

It’s difficult to decide whether growing pains are something teenagers have – or are – unknown.


Like that? How about this one:

Adolescence is a period of rapid changes. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a parent ages as much as 20 years – unknown.


Or this:

The teenager seems to have replaced the Communist as the appropriate target for public controversy and foreboding – Edgar Friedenberg, The Vanishing Adolescent.


It’s easy and common for adults to simultaneously make fun of and fear teenagers. Why not? One minute they’re giggling uncontrollably for no reason at all…the next, they’re sobbing uncontrollably for no reason at all. Psychologically, teenagers carry nearly the exact same characteristics of someone suffering from bi-polarism. With that in mind, perhaps it’s time we begin looking at teenagers like this:


Don’t laugh at a youth for his affections; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own – Logan Pearsall Smith, “Age and Death,” Afterthoughts.


Or even this:

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves – Virginia Satir, The New Peoplemaking.


In our society, we obsess over labels and identity. Jesus never had that problem. In John 8, when the Jews asked Him who He was, Jesus responded, “I am.” Jesus knows precisely who He is; consequently, we know precisely who He is.


But who am I? Where do I fit into this chaos called life? These are questions adults ask themselves from time-to-time, but they are also questions that teenagers are asking for the first time.


In classic psychology, there are eight stages of life. As one exits a stage and enters another, a kind of life-crisis happens. It’s like in weather – when a new front passes through, a storm occurs. Well, pre-teen and early teenagers are at the beginning of the stage known as adolescence, so right now, that life-crisis…that storm…is taking place. They are looking for their identity in this world. A direction into adulthood.


Our children grow up looking up to us. Our truths are their truths. What they see in us is what they believe the world to be. We are infallible. Then these children become adolescents, and their eyes begin to open. They see the world beyond the walls of their home. They see our faults and failures. We may try to hide them or explain them away as something to be understood when these teens are older, but the fact of the matter is that our teens are trying to make sense of it now. They’re confused because what they’re witnessing goes against everything they’ve known their whole life. They’re searching for truth. They’re searching for understanding. They’re searching for identity. Meanwhile…they’re watching.


Teenagers are some of the most observant humans on the planet. Sure, they’ll forget to do their chores or space out when we’re talking, but they’re watching us. Where do we fit in? How do we handle the truths of the world that they are now awakening to? Teenagers don’t want to do their homework, but they are craving to learn. We cannot continue to shield them from the world that’s awaiting them, but we can help ease the transition by humbling ourselves and opening up.


I am faulted. I am confused. Angry. Stressed. The thing is…I have a Savior who accepts these issues from me. Now, just because Jesus is in my life does not mean I don’t feel overwhelmed or frustrated. However, because Jesus is in my life, I know that I have Someone that I can take these issues to. Someone who gives me the strength and ability to persevere through the truths of this world. And because of that, I also know that I am blessed. Happy. Loved. These are the truths we will be speaking on this year at Wyldlife and I will be writing on here. The goal is to embrace this teenaged road of identity-seeking and provide the GPS coordinates to their next destination in order to help them better weather this storm.


Perhaps then, our adolescents can understand this:

How strange that the young should always think the world is against them – when in fact that is the only time it is for them – Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook.

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