Relentless Resolve: In order to be real in the face of ever-changing moods, attitudes, and relationships with our teens, we must always represent a relentless pursuit of their heart. God has never called us to love anyone with a conditional, half-hearted approach. No matter the sigh or roll of the eyes, my teenager must be met with an immovable and continuing stream of love and acceptance. Too often the need for acceptance among their peers is at the very crux of what is driving their current mood or choices. This resolve doesn’t allow me to excuse sin or rebellion, but it does afford for an “I love you no matter what“ way of responding through even the most challenging circumstances. This type of relentless mindset, to love in the midst of every whim and phase, can only be accomplished by living in the reality that mirrors what I experience daily from my loving Savior. The song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury has often played in my mind at times when I felt too weak to extend unwavering love. The refrain says, “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine....” Never-ending is not circumstantial or conditional. Praise the Lord for His relentless pursuit of my soul!
Empathy: Being empathetic is a part of being real that I never considered in the younger years. However, it has been brought to light many times in my relationship with my teens. The ability to remember how it felt to be left out of a group activity, have to sit the bench, drop a tray in the lunch room, or have your first crush rejected, is something I pray for pretty regularly. These situations from my adult perspective are so minor in the whole of what I know their lives will be, but they can’t see from where I stand yet. Asking God to help me recall how crushing the hurts, difficult the peer pressure, and heavy the disappointments, will allow for barriers to be torn down and transparency built up in our relationship. Being able to cry with them, yet represent the truth of God’s purpose and how He has worked in your life, reveals that you are listening with a patient kindness.
Hebrews 4:14-15 are such powerful verses that show us empathy to the greatest decree is found in Christ Jesus. What is comfort for our souls can also be a mark of genuineness in the daily interaction with our teen.
"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:14-15
Accessible: This one is especially challenging for a full-time working wife and mom. Late night talks in our bed and phone calls from college at crazy hours make being able to be accessible not only an emotional struggle but a physical one as well. I have found that when most teens want to talk takes place after the sun goes down and the house is quiet. To prepare my heart to be an open door, welcoming their conversation, I make my climbing into bed routine more of a prayer time for my teens and less of an “I am closed for the day” time for me. Entreating the Lord to meet with me and grant me wisdom, clarity of mind, and physical stamina has turned this time into a treasure instead of a burden. When on the rare occasion a teen doesn’t stop by after 10pm I find myself disappointed. Being reminded of verse like 1 Peter 3:12a, and knowing that my God’s ears are always open to me, helps me to show my teens this same kindness.
"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer...” 1 Peter 3:12a
Loyalty: Loyalty may seem a strange thing to list as we all know that we would literally give our life for our children. Through a recent series of choices that one of our teens was making, I found myself struggling to be forgiving and accepting. Adult peer-pressure, concern over what others think, and a myriad of draining conversations left me wanting to throw in the towel. As I struggled to think truth, I heard Lamentations 3:22-23. God’s faithfulness and loyalty to this wayward sinner will never be lacking. As wild and self-willed as I am, He remains ever faithful, even granting new mercies at the next sunrise. If my God does that for this vessel of clay, He surely will give me the ability to stand on the front porch as the father of the prodigal did. He will even give my feet speed as I run to receive the brokenness and welcome them home. I get to stand as their biggest fan even as they try to move away. What a privilege to be that in their lives. What a precious picture of Christ!
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
To be REAL in my teen’s life is a calling that I can’t dismiss. Oh, how I long to show them a glimpse of what they can find in Christ where there is never a hint of fraud or illusion. Being REAL is crucial, and may it be said of me.
How do you make yourself R-E-A-L in your teen's life?
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