Adolescence is often a confusing time for teenagers as they grow into and try to understand their new feelings. This can be compounded greatly when parents refuse to roll with the inevitable changes. There is far more to this stage of development than we give it credit, so we shouldn’t just blow it off or scoff at it. We are all born with the eight basic emotions, yet as teens, the eight higher emotions emerge. So our emotional spectrum doubles at this critical time. Do most parents realize this?
Maybe on some level, parents don't really want their children to grow up. We want them to remain good boys, and nice girls, since we know exactly what they will have to face as adults. As futile as it may seem to fight it. Maybe we just want to force them down the path we wish we would have taken. Which often produces the opposite result we want. Maybe on some level we really do believe in a one size fits all path to prosperity, and are trying to impose it on our children. Regardless, These are all too common mistakes that most experience from one end or the other, if not both. Which can stunt our sense of identity.
This is often the genesis of teens looking to something else for the acceptance, approval, and validation we all crave. Which ultimately leads to all the cliques that public schools often revolve around, which serve as substitute families. As social philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, "When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other." So at that critical time of self-discovery, we break ourselves into factions, imitating a group of people who have no better sense of self than we do. All bound together via some rather superficial element of pop culture. The irony of it all is; it's done in the name of "individualism." Maybe this is why the word unnecessarily has such a negative connotation in the Church. Naturally, this is not a very good foundation for identity.
As a long-time adult Christian educator, I can assure you this very poor start in life can linger far into adulthood. Most are motivated by mere survival, comfort, and convenience; not an "abundant life" as Christ indicated. (John 10:10) Not that we have any idea what he means by that. Yet, we wonder why so many succumb to the mid-life crisis and try to go back to that time before our life went off course. To reclaim what we lost, our sense of identity. Not that these mid-life crisis behaviors ever achieve that.
One other big issue in identity is the world makes it all about self-indulgence, fame, fortune, comfort, and convenience. The church should be showing people what it means to really live, not just avoid the fires of hell. By helping people find their individual role in the body of Christ. Revealing who we are in the creator, as well as the wholeness we can have in Christ Jesus. Yet since we get so hung up on the singular dimension of holiness that is righteousness, we aren’t doing that. So we don't seem all that "set apart" from the jr. sr. high school experience we all endured that has lead to our emptiness.
There are ills in the world, and the church has answers. Yet, it doesn't seem like it when we try to skip over the process of holiness, to jump to the result of it. The church has problems right now too, and the solution is right under our nose. But, we can't see it because we just aren't going deep enough, and only addressing the surface. It is time for the church to step up, and ironically enough that means taking a step back. So we can embrace the full spectrum of holiness again.
The Visual PARABLEist
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ” -Jeremiah 1:5
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11