Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Teenagers, Vulnerabilities, and the List You’ve Always Wanted {but didn’t know it}

Only my computer trash knows how many times I have photographed THIS expression.
{Shameless Easter Selfie}
Heads on our pillows the other night, before Jeff slipped into blissful dreamland, he stated, “You haven’t been writing.”  I wanted to say, “And???”  But I knew by the slurred tone in which he’d made the statement, I wouldn’t get an answer before he fell asleep.  So here I sit trying to think of something other than my teenage girl and my 6-months-away-from-teenage boy.  I cannot do it.  It’s consuming, these kids and their methods and their rooms and their hormones and their  clothes and their aromas {maybe one in particular} and their complete vulnerability as they are trying to figure out this growing up thing.  This is what headlines my thoughts.

If you need a refresher on the definition of the word “vulnerability” it is:  capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt.  That’s true of all of us but especially true of our teenage kids.  I need to remember this every single day.  I am not excusing them from very foolish decisions, mouths that utter snarky words at the most unfortunate times,  less than ideal work ethics, the inability to remember much of anything ….. but to realize what all is going on within them can help me to take the chaos in a little more stride.

What I see and discover makes me a little concerned for their brains.  I know things happen to our brains all of our lives but this………I think this is unprecedented.  It has to be.  I think you can only live through this once.  The best picture I have for what I think their brains look like at this stage would be B’s back pack.  Or a majority of 12 year old boys’ backpacks.  I refuse to think that B’s is the only one.  Papers………. LOOSE papers………. everywhere.  Paper Palooza!  Paper Party!  Paper Powerhouse!  Wrinkled gobs of papers sprouting from the zipper!  Yours for the taking!  No matter if they are homework due yesterday or four yesterdays ago!  The only plus is that on a hot day, you can reach {with much caution} to the very bottom of the pack and pull out a naturally occurring paper fan and create a small breeze for yourself.  And maybe review your Pre-Algebra simultaneously.  Back to the brain analogy— it’s a mess.  Nothing seems to be where it’s supposed to be or used to be or has completely disappeared altogether.  The only things they seem to remember is if it’s their day to sit in the front seat or it’s NOT their morning to cook breakfast.  New things have appeared but haven’t been put in their place yet where it can actually be helpful when you need it— like a fierce desire for independence.  This seems to backfire on them the most often.  Independence is good when it comes to school or chores, not so good when it comes to abiding by house rules or looking to serve family members.  Add in their insecurities— their questions about who they are, what do they want to become, who is their friend, where is the deodorant and what to wear tomorrow— these kids are vulnerable.  Susceptible to being hurt.  And that causes my compassion to surface.  {And my mother bear instinct which has caused me to offer up many prayers of repentance as I’ve responded to my kids being wounded by kids who are in the same boat—— no, kayak in the rapids.}

So, what can we do about this— all of this maddening misplaced independence, the chunks of information that has seemingly selectively fallen out of their memory, their failure to respond to training and discipline—  and still stay compassionate, patient and loving?!?!  And sane.  Beg Jesus to come back?!?!  NOW!!!!  I’ve said more times than I can count over the last few months, “I thought I knew something about parenting, but I know nothing.”  I know that’s not completely true but it’s completely HOW I FEEL much of the time.  I stand and stare at the kids looking back at me— and I stare because I have no idea what to say.  I am puzzled and I am ignorant.  And for the record, I need to stare more often— stare with eyes open and mouth shut, because when I open my mouth I say things that are followed up with phones calls from the kids to Jeff and I am referred to as “your wife”,  Nice.  {Only one of my children does this…..One out of two ain’t bad.}

I was talking to a friend this morning and the idea came to me how helpful it would be to ME to list out the things I could not control.  This list is obvious but when wired like I am, this is helpful for me to see in black and white.

Scripture—- that’s what I’ve got.  Scripture—- that’s what I know.

The List You’ve Always Wanted {but didn’t know it}

I cannot control their tongues.  By HIs grace, I can control my own.  
Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  {No staring mentioned here.}

I cannot carry out their responsibilities.  By His grace, I can carry out mine.  
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I cannot make them serve. By His grace, I can serve.
Ephesians 6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. 

I cannot control their work ethic.  By His grace, I can control mine.  
Colossains 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I cannot control their level of contentment. By His grace, I can control my own.
Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 

I cannot control their responses.  By His grace, I can control mine.
Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 

I cannot control their attitude.  By His grace, I can control my own.
Philippians 2:3-4  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 

I cannot control thought patterns that seem to rule them.  By His grace, I can control my own.
Psalm 19:14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
2 Corinthians 10:5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I cannot, at all times, protect them, their vulnerabilities, but I know who can.  
Psalm 71:3 Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 
Psalm 61:3  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
Psalm 31:19 How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.
Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 71:1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.

So more and more, God is showing me this parenting thing is really more about Him and me than it is about the kids and me.  Yes, we need to speak into the lives of our children.  We are their primary “disciplers” {not sure that is a word}—the one discipling them in the ways of Christ.  Yes, we need to spend gobs of time with them, engage their hearts and at this age, giving them more and more freedom as they prove they are ready.  But more importantly, we need to model in front of them the ways of Christ- selflessness, graceful words, hard-working, gentleness, humility, patience, peacemaking, contentedness, purity of mind and heart, intentionality— and all the other ways modeled to us by Him.  They need to see us submitting to the Word, giving Christ our wholehearted devotion.  They need this SO MUCH MORE than all my words.  The security my kids could gain from my commitment to His ways could root them deep, protecting some of their vulnerable spots and propel them forward in strength and confidence in the Lord.

Yes, that’s what I’m after.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.  Isaiah 61:3


Emily said...

Beautiful Krista. I especially love your list. A good practice for all of us "controllers" to try. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here.

Emily said...
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