Posts Tagged ‘Adolescence’

IMG_1197.PNG As I sat in the school library, my attention was grabbed by a group of grade eight middle school students, working together on a group project.

It was one young man, in particular, who caught my gaze.

He was awkward … in every way possible.

His glasses kept slipping down his nose.

His round face, and body indicated that his upward growth had not yet stretched him vertically.

His clothes looked like ones a mom would buy (I’ve been that mom) without asking his opinion (though, to be fair to mom, maybe he didn’t really care what he was wearing).

He slouched in his chair, feet dangling inches from the carpeted floor.

Although his appearance was awkward (and I’ll bet his voice cracked, as well) it was the conversation with the girls in his group that captivated my attention.

The girls, oozing that early maturation that adolescent girls benefit from, were obviously speaking a language that he had yet to learn. They were talking quickly with their lips, as well as with their demonstrative hands. They giggled, they planned, they organized the role of the awkward boy in their project. The other boy in the group had an athletic build, and he smiled and laughed with the girls, causing the girls to hang on his every word. He was not awkward but amazing!

The young man looked like a fish out of water, totally and completely out of his element, his comfort zone, getting deep into uncharted waters.

And the girls giggled.

I have talked with this awkward young man. He is bright, makes wise choices, has compassion on others, is a great student … academically and behaviorally, he has a twinkle in his eye that makes one feel safe, heard, valued.

Here is what those giggling girls need to know:

that plain caterpillar will emerge from his adolescent cocoon a beautiful, graceful butterfly.

Now he might still not fully understand the language of females, and he may never have the buff body of an athlete, but the wise choices he makes, the use and development of the brain in his head, and his compassionate heart will grow him into a man of honor and success.

Right now, those girls are oblivious to this … right now he is oblivious to this.

Watching this young man in his group reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:18

“So we fix out eyes
not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen

since what is seen is temporary
but what is unseen is eternal.”

So often, in the midst of the difficult, the ugly, the painful or the … awkward, we simply cannot ever imagine life being different or better. Our focus is completely on the mire of today. But God can see our future … all of it.

He knows where we are heading, and He plans to go there with us.

Just like me watching the scene in the library, believing that this young mans future looks so much brighter than his present, God looks at us in our awkward life situations and He knows what is to come for our lives, for our eternity.

Today is just a step in our life, lets keep our gaze on the unseen, who sees all.






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A sweet summer Saturday morning, writing in my chair alongside of hubby, a number of weeks ago, was upset by a Facebook post hubby read to me. This post led to a discussion about the consequences of our actions and choices.

Hubby had read a post of a peer who had recently left his family, for the open arms of another woman, and he was declaring how delightful his life is currently. Hubby and I then talked about his wife, now living essentially as a single mom, with dad breezing in and out of the lives of their kids, when he has time. We talked about his adolescent and teenage sons, left behind by their primary figure of manhood, responsibility and stability.

I have to say those ‘life is beautiful’ posts make me want to say, “give your head a shake!”

Does this dad (or mom, as the case may be) live in a bubble?

Does he (she) not see the carnage that they left behind?

Are their eyes sealed shut to the pain, hurt and rejection staring back at them from the fruits of their loins (their children)?

Do they really think that leaving their family for another will turn out any differently?

I know I can be rather a ‘ranter’ when it comes to this subject, and please know that I do not believe that people should stay in relationships where there is violence. But really, are those fleeing a relationship from the parent of their children aware of the consequences of their actions on the next generation? Do they realize how un-beautiful life might be for the ones they say they love the most (their children)?

Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., author of The Everything Parents Guide Children Divorce, say that “divorce tends to intensify the (younger) child’s dependence and it tends to accelerate the adolescent’s independence; it often elicits a more regressive response in the child and a more aggressive response in the adolescent.” A younger child might regress into bed wetting, or have problems with separation, whereas the adolescent might do things (be disobedient experiment with alcohol, drugs, sexuality) that accelerate their experiences of development.

So what is he saying? Divorce tends to increase attention-seeking behaviors, in a variety of ways depending on the age of the child.

And why are they participating in attention-seeking behaviors? Because their world is being rocked up-side-down from it’s foundational pillars … their parents, and so they do whatever they can to seek attention, with the subconscious hope of bringing those pillars back together in the same place, at the same time, so that their world might come back together.

As I hear of and watch children and teens whose lives have been rocked by a decision by their parent/s to seek a “beautiful life” elsewhere, what I ache most for, other than their current pain, is their own relationships in the future. Not that they see relationships as temporary, but how do they go into a relationship able to trust their hearts to another, knowing that that trust was broken in their foundational homes? Are they ever free to believe another human who says, “I will love you forever?” That is a most tragic consequence!

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First there were the girls …

Having daughters scared the life out of me! I grew up as the only sister to two younger brothers. Hubby grew up as the brother to an older brother. I figured that neither one of us knew a thing about raising girls.

Then we had a son, and I figured that raising a son would be a breeze! We both grew up in male dominated households. Also, I work primarily with teen boys, and prefer that reality to working with teen girls much of the time, as they are so honest, and there is so much less guesswork with what they are thinking. For another, ‘they say’ that boys are easier than girls …

I have to admit that in my arrogance, I felt that if I had co-raised two daughters who seem rather well adjusted (only future counseling will reveal the truth of that) a son would be a walk in the park. After all he was just the best baby a mother could ever hope for, and so thoughtful and kind to his mother, surely adolescence would be flawless … right?

I have come to the conclusion that males do have emotions, and that there are times when the floodgates of sorrow, injustice, and anger flow over their banks and cause chaos and catastrophe for all around. Not only are they emotional, but they are also louder at being emotional! Their highs are higher and their lows lower. Plus they speak a language, complete with unique meaning and understanding of what they are saying, that my ears and mind can not comprehend.

In the past few months I feel as though I have been the ‘bad guy’ more than not …. and I am not even a GUY!

The surprising part of this is that when our son was born, I was often heard to say, “God gave me a son so that, when the girls are older, and don’t want to talk to me, I will always have a son who will adore me.” I was so wrong!

Sometimes it seems as though he is actually trying to pick a fight with me, and I am certain that I am at risk of severing my tongue from biting it so often.

But then we have a moment, a time when we can laugh together (over my singing loudly while wearing his headphones), a time when he believes again that he can trust me, a time when he understands that I am offering him mercy, and a second chance … it is then that we make eye contact, and I am reminded of the frightening nine months of praying us through the pregnancy, of my hopes and dreams for him, of the gift from God that he is to me … and the rest just doesn’t matter …

I also think about how one day, he will have a child just like him … and I smile even more!

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One of my favorite parts of working in high school is seeing the metamorphosis that occurs as teens grow and mature in their relationships with their peers.

It can leave a residue on my heart, that, over the years, has changed how I related to students.

There was a girl who was choosing poorly. She had given up on the ‘childish’ things she loved, things like sports, her youth group, books and schoolwork. She was mentally moving to the wrong side of the tracks, and on that wrong side was hanging out at the mall, friends who brought her down, premature dating and exposures to chemical substances.

She was only twelve.

For the next three years she chose the ‘dark side’ and, ironically, that dark side started to gray her appearance. Her make-up became darker, her clothes became darker, tighter and more revealing, her attitude became darker, and her personality became darker.

Her marks slid, her reputation with peers was negative and she was ‘pegged’ a hopeless case. Sadly she was probably pegged that hopeless case a long time prior, as her home situation was a rough one that could make it difficult for her to see and dream of hope for her future.

Then, as school began for yet another year, this young lady ‘looked’ different. The shadows were disappearing, and were being replaced by a brightening, a lightening of her appearance. Her make-up was lighter, her clothes were lighter, looser more modest, her attitude, her personality seemed cheerier, happier, lighter.

That new school year she tried out for a sports team, she walked with a smile, instead of a scowl, and she began to make efforts to connect with a different, a more hope-filled, a more future-minded crowd of peers.

It does not always happen this way, but that different, more future-minded crown of peers, welcomed her in. They accepted her, and invited her to be part of them, to be one of them.

Her life began to show signs of hope.

This story is one that I created from a combination of many stories I see walking the halls of high school every day. It is a story without knowledge of the ending as we do not know where the life of an adolescent or teen might go.

What we do know is that the life of a teen or adolescent is like that of a tight rope walker. They might be headed along on the straight and narrow, but at any time they might lose their balance. The resulting fall call be fast, hard, and with long lasting consequences.

When you see a teen you know, say hello to them, ask about their weekend, their plans for after school. These simple, natural interactions, accompanied by silent prayers for the life, the heart, the soul of that individual, can be the bright spot in an otherwise dark day for a teen. Be intentional in noticing these developing souls as they prepare to emerge from their adolescent cocoon as a moth or a beautiful butterfly.

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I so vividly remember Thanksgiving Sunday, sixteen years ago …

I had spent the night in a hospital, in a city I didn’t live in, not knowing why I had been having the most dreadful, take you breath away (literally) pains for over a day. I was wheeled to Sonography for an ultrasound, which revealed the ‘problem’ … I was pregnant, and the pregnancy had attached to my fallopian tube. It’s growth was causing my life to be threatened.

Once that knowledge had been attained, I was immediately prepped for surgery, and wheeled into the OR to have the tube and the pregnancy (the baby) removed. It was a day that made thanks-giving a struggle. On the one hand, I was thankful for my life, and on the other I was mourning the loss of our fifth pregnancy, our fifth child.

And life moves on …

About twelve and a half years ago I was visiting my doctor to confirm what I had already guessed … I was pregnant.

Now for most that declaration might bring a smile to your face, but, with our history of incomplete pregnancies it was just step one of a very long, very anxiety-ridden time.

When my doctor told me the due date would be October 17, I asked him to look to see when Thanksgiving Sunday would be. His reply, “October 10.” To which I replied, “I’m having this baby on that day.”

On October 9, 1999, as I bent over to tie my shoes, the first discernible beginnings of labor began. And the following day … Thanksgiving Sunday … on the tenth month of the tenth day, at ten past ten in the morning our son breathed his first breath, and cried. And so did we, with more thanksgiving than we had ever hoped.

And, today he turns twelve. He is on the cusp of all that adolescence holds and brings to a boys body, mind and soul. He is eager to physically look down on me. He is not too eager to have signs of affection shown to him in public, and has not yet reached the point of maturity that can handle hearing me tell stories of when he was younger (but if I could, there would be rafts of great and humorous tales of adventure and mayhem). He is eager for his voice to change, but has not yet started to empty the hot water tank when in the shower. He’s on the cusp.

Who is this boy to soon become man? He is the one who wants to give hugs (even to his sisters). He is a creative soul, who would prefer to build than to tear down. He is the football player who is struggling to put all his weight into it when coming up against the other team players, because he really doesn’t want to hurt them. He is the only child we have ever gotten a call from school about … apparently on top of another boy hitting (if only he could divert this to football). He is a philosopher who, while the rest of us are talking nonsense, will awaken from his silence and share his deep thoughts about something he has been turning around in his mind for a time. He is not a ‘school’ academic, but he is a most natural student of life, who will probably study far more than his report cards ever indicate. He is our only son, and in him we are well pleased.

But what do I want for him? I want him to be a man after God’s own heart.

Samuel referred to David this way. He told King Saul that because he had not done what the Lord had commanded, his kingdom, his rule that was supposed to have lasted a long time, would end. He also told the King that because David was a man after God’s own heart, he would inherit (though not by birth, so much as God’s appointing) Saul’s kingdom.

A man after God’s own heart … what a grandiose hope for an adolescent boy. But, it was as a boy, the youngest in the family (probably called the Hebrew equivalent of ‘little puke’ by his older brothers), that David was first anointed as the next king of Israel. God’s plan for David’s life was not hampered by his last of bloodline, his youth, his size or lack of formal education. God had a plan that was born out of the condition of David’s heart, and it was that one quality that made David God’s man for the job.

I pray that my son’s heart will, like David’s, be one that seeks to be in unison with the heart of God. There is no other dream or desire that I pray more earnestly for his life. It is in being one with God that, even in sin (and boy, did David know sin, and failure), redemption can be received.

“But the LORD said to Samuel,

“…The LORD does not look at the things people look at.

People look at the outward appearance,

but the LORD looks at the heart.” “

1 Samuel 16:7

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