“I’m Not Going to Church!” Chapter 3.2

Posted: January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Adolescents, in an attempt to find the sources of their own being and arrive at self-definition, sometimes use the device of denial or rejection. In search of personal faith they reject everything that is impersonal or institutional.” (p.22)

Peterson points out that “children” are learners and adults are “deciders.” As adolescents begin to practice and experiment with decision-making, it puts the adults in their lives in a less comfortable position.

We are unavoidably a part of the decisions, confusions, roller coasters of emotions, and yes, the high points of great clarity of the young people with whom we are close. Our temptation in the middle of all that may be to provide some rapid stability, to “fix” the sentiments that seem “wrong,” and perhaps even to respond personally to the denial and rejections.

Okay, so here is the 100-million-dollar question: How do we take things less personally?

I find myself suddenly thin-skinned at unexpected moments. I didn’t see it coming. After 26 years of youth/young adult ministry and five teens of my own I thought I understood enough to rise above. I know in my head that the moments of rejection, personal attacks, even accusatory comments that are part of this world say more about the person generating them than the person receiving them. And I know that in the world of teens and young adults the person generating them does not generally even have the self-awareness to know what they are doing. But still I find myself embracing darts and licking wounds.

How about you? Do you find yourself embracing and “stewing” over remarks that are not premeditated and quickly forgotten…instead of rejoicing that the process of maturity is at work in a young person’s life?

I freely admit this is tougher in the area of faith than any other arena. I can flex on almost any other issue. But my faith and the rituals that help me express my faith are central to who I am. Can I really allow kids that I love to wrestle with doubt…to push away from my rituals…to challenge my expressions and experience of faith…while I am trusting God to complete His work in them!?

I’ve got way more questions than answers here…but I serve a trustworthy God! His faithfulness is my confidence. Meanwhile, what have you learned to help you navigate these waters well?

(This post is inspired by chapter 3 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.

Comments
  1. Linda Hrncir says:

    I do get hurt at times by reckless comments and attitudes my kids express. Sometimes I am able to just overlook it. Other times I feel the need to address it. I think it’s important that they know I’m a person with feelings and that they should care about my feelings too. Besides the fact that it helps in our relationship, I’m hoping they will be more considerate of others when they know their words and actions affect people. But sometimes I have to just believe that at their heart of hearts they are good people and don’t intentionally harm. I guess that’s part of embracing adolescence as a gift and growth process you were talking about.

    Music has been an issue in our family. At first they embraced my beloved “Contemporary Christian Music” and then as they got older they started to reject some of it, saying it had no depth or originality. At first I was very hurt. Particularly because some of them seemed to be making fun of it. I had to back off and let them make their own choices. Eventually we both compromised… they embraced some of the stuff I love and I came to appreciate some of their favorites. This seems to be an ongoing process. Through it I have become more open-minded and I think that’s a good thing. Although I still cringe sometimes when I turn the car on and the radio is tuned to a station that is more “worldly” than I am comfortable with. But ultimately I know the important issue is that they have “hearts of flesh” and are trusting in Him and for that I am very thankful.

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