“I’ll Dress the Way I Want!” Chapter 2.3

Posted: January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Every choice a youth makes – even choices on seeming insubstantial affairs like hairstyles and clothing – is part of a process in which he is learning to make choices that will make him (or her) what he will be in Christ.

I will blog on our next chapter later today. But first I would like to revisit I Samuel 3.

At my church (First Methodist) in Tulsa, for the next two Sundays I will be talking about adolescence and the issues of identity, autonomy/power, and belonging. You are welcome to come at 10:05 to the junior high room in the new youth wing. I Samuel 3 would be great reading in preparation.

Adolescence is a time of seeking identity. Who am I? Does this mask fit? But the common and well-meaning refrains of “be all you can be” or “fulfill your potential” or “you can do anything you set your mind to” are hollow and misguided. These mantras do nothing to help form true identity. And as Peterson points out, there is nothing of the Christian gospel in them.

Eugene Peterson: “…young Samuel is a paradigm for the adolescent experience: he hears his name pronounced in a new way, a way that calls forth his identity; eventually he recognizes that it is God who is pronouncing the name, that his new life is created in newness by God.” (p. 17)

There is a sense in which at each life stage we can understand and must claim anew the gift that God gives us – Himself. The child who has “received Jesus Christ into his or her heart” will need to rediscover Christ as a friend….and Lord…and so on.

The calling of Samuel by God reflects both that God is calling Samuel in a new way, and that it is God Himself calling. God knows Samuel by name. He calls him not as Elkanah and Hannah’s child or as Eli’s protoge, but as Samuel. “It is when he recognizes himself as one named by God that he finds the full content of ‘Samuel’” (p. 15)

In adolescence every system we have is in rapid flux. But we are not defined by any of them – not our sexuality or the development of our cerebral cortex or our social standing or our emotional well-being. We are ultimately defined by our most significant reality – our relationship with God. Does this encourage you? Does it help bring perspective? Does it seem scary? How does the story of Samuel in I Samuel 3 speak to you as a parent or as a friend of teens?

(This post is inspired by chapter 2 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 10 weeks to become part of the discussion.)

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