I have two teenagers in my home, and I really like them both. They are often funny, (mostly) responsible and all-around enjoyable people. (Usually.)
Just like their parents.
Since I had three children in less than four years, folks have often felt compelled to weigh in on whatever phase of life my children were in. When the kiddos were little and I didn’t have enough hands to hang onto all of them, people would raise their eyebrows and respond with a “Wow, you sure have your hands full”. I learned to smile and reply with, “I sure do. My hands and my heart!” Sometimes that made people nod and smile. Sometimes it left people looking confused. Either way, I knew they truth of the matter.
One of the most bewildering questions strangers often asked was, “Hey, don’t you know what causes that?!” This remark left me torn. Part of me wondered why they were referring to my precious children as though they were a hangover. Another part of me wondered what would happen if I shot back with “Of course I know what causes it. That’s why we keep having children”. I usually just gritted my teeth and went on about my business.
When my kids were old enough to walk along beside the grocery cart and do their own looking both ways before crossing the street, folks would comment on how well-behaved they were…and then tack on a, “You just wait until they’re all teenagers!”
This left my children confused. They couldn’t quite figure out how their good efforts now were going to give way to horrible things at the magical age of thirteen. I tried to explain about puberty and hormones and sowing wild oats, but they didn’t get it. Quite frankly, neither did I. After some time of fielding these remarks and mulling over the problem, I came up with a solution: Our family was not going to own The Teenage Curse. We were going to continue living in the freedom and grace of Jesus Christ. We were not going to fear a phase of life that God has intended every child to live. Period.
My two teenagers recently hosted nine of their friends for a slumber party. I had asked for the girls to leave their electronic devices at home, and they did. So, it was just a lot of girls, with a lot of energy and a lot of free time.
They were wonderful. There was no snarkiness. No back-biting. Not even a hint of rudeness reached my ears. They were respectful. Well-mannered. They even cleaned up a lot of their own mess. (Gasp!) They were loud and they laughed a lot. Not every girl always got her way. But, every girl handled each disappointment with grace. I was really, really proud of all of them.
And really, really proud of their parents.
I have known some of these girls for years. Some of them only for a few months. All of them blessed me with their courtesy, respectfulness and pleasant demeanor.
Are they perfect? Um, no. Neither are their parents. Are they living above a standard that society has set for them? I think so.
I am not a fool. I know that the coming years are going to be hard on these girls and their families. I know better than these girls about what is waiting for them out in the real world, and it breaks my heart. Divorce. Addiction. Entitlement. Pornography. Sex outside of marriage. Debt.
It’s almost like our culture has been busily planting these landmines for our children only to sit back and jeer as they struggle to make their way through the deadly obstacles. There is something wrong with that.
Will my kids make mistakes? Um, yes. Will they make the kinds of mistakes that haunt them forever, the kinds of mistakes their parents made? We pray not. But, if they do, they will have been raised with the knowledge of God’s grace and mercy. They will know who they are and to Whom they belong. They will always know where Home is and what they need to do to get back.
I ran across this passage in my Bible this morning. In the margin, there is a little note in my handwriting that I prayed this prayer for my unborn child on February 15, 2000. I prayed it again this morning for all of my children, and I will pray it every time this passage comes to mind. I typed it up this morning and taped it to the kids’ bathroom mirror, because I want them to know what I am praying. I want them to know that, in spite of what anyone else says, God knows their capabilities–and their parents are pulling for them.
“I am asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order than you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of Light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”–Colossians 1:9-14