Updated: Jun 12, 2022
Have you ever played "The Grateful Game"? A time when you feel like being petty and discouraged, but instead you choose to find things to be grateful for. It's not about neglecting the problem at hand, but it is incredibly powerful in giving you perspective. I recently was playing this with myself, and out of no where popped in this thought ,"I am so grateful my mom scaffold me into confident Christ-honoring choices".
I’m told the toddler years are hard on your body, but the teenage years are hard on your heart. I‘m not there yet, but I do know that similar to the Roman city 16 year old Abby is in above, convictions aren‘t built in a day. It takes hundreds and thousands of tiny conversations and choices. If you are in the thick of the teenage years I want to encourage you, it does matter! Your love and consistency in parenting and loving their heart is pleasing to the Lord. Since I don’t have real life experience yet, I’ve been pondering some nuggets my mom used for me during those teen years and how it deeply helped me.
She gave me language for Christ-Centered values. This helped me identify "life and death" and "foolish and wise" patterns and choices in my life and the lives of those around me.
She put a high emphasis on learning to hear and obey the voice of the Lord for myself. She modeled this TREMENDOUSLY in her motherhood actions and conversations. This gave me a pattern to follow. Also, Instead of just laying the law down, most of our conversations sounded like "what do YOU hear the Holy Spirit saying?"
She hovered closely in the kitchen to "wash dishes" when I knew she was watching the show I picked. This helped me think "is this show pleasing to the Lord?" instead of "All my friends are watching this." The power of a tv in a common area alone was a great tool. We didn't have ipads or tvs in our rooms, so if we were watching something, a parent or sibling eyes were too. Media matters.
But top of the list for me, in helping me “succeed” in the peer pressure saturated teenage years, was she provided a way of escape. Always. She let me step on her as I was building faith muscles to walk alone.
A small practical example: She always told me “throw me under the bus. In any situation you don’t feel comfortable with you can say “My mom is so strict. I can’t.“ or “I really want to but it’s not worth it if my mom finds out.” Somehow making my mom the one ”making my choice” helped.
Now did that grow into “No. I don’t want to.“ “I don’t feel good about this.” or “I want to become a wise person, I won’t be making that choice.”? Yes. But having the training wheels of the “right choice” being my mom‘s before it was mine was a game changer.
Another practical :
She taught me if a conversation wasn't one I wanted to be a part of to remove myself by excusing myself to go to the bathroom. Did I eventually grow into courage of having healthy conversations about my convictions or hard topics? Yes. But I needed this first step. Maybe this was just me and my personality. But even if it was, that’s another parent tip! My mom knew ME. She gave me tools for my personality and growth journey. I always had a quiet tender heart. I wanted to obey. I just needed tools to help me. Maybe for your teen it’s a different game. But prayer and persistence of grace will lead to the shaping of men and women who fear the Lord.
So if you have a teen, talk with them, get ahead of summer. Have the hard conversation. Give them the phrases they need to “escape”. Maybe even come up with code text messages that they can text you that means “come pick me up”. Work together on game plans to help them at practices, movies, malls, friends houses, camps, etc.
The heart is that they would never ever be in a situation that wouldn’t be beneficial or building of their faith. But they will be in the fire of their day somehow. And letting them practice “I will not bow” now in small ways will build into strong conviction and confidence for their own later. What a potent and powerful season the teenage years are! I’m praying for you. “Do not grow weary in doing good.” Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day; every conversation and choice is chiseling their hearts.
He is worthy,
P.S - Happy birthday week, Mama. ❤️Thank you for chiseling me with Truth and Grace. I love you forever.
***Don‘t forget…The Cirkles are cheering you on!