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It seems like everyday we are facing a new issue whether it’s bullying, sex trafficking, gay marriage or who won The Voice. It’s a little overwhelming, especially to see the emotional responses on Twitter and Facebook. I’m feeling the tension; however, I’m constantly reminded to lean on God in situations that might make me feel broken, uncomfortable, confused and even frustrated. When I know I can lean on Him I find comfort in knowing that I’m not alone. As an adult you have been given the wisdom to sort through the tension that life can bring. For some of our teens the tension can be too much. They feel like they have to pick a side. They choose one view because that’s what their friends do, or they’ll pick another view because they want to rebel against their parents. They decide they believe what they believe because of you, their teacher, some celebrity or because that’s what they want to believe. They switch from here to there searching for acceptance and understanding to their beliefs and emotions but in today’s world with so many flying around it’s hard for them to focus on simply allowing God to lead them. To lead them to God through the tension, we need to teach them:
To sit in the tension means to process all the emotions that occur and allow God to sort them out. It means learning how to love the sinner and hate the sin. To sit in the tension means knowing how to love the worst of our enemies. It’s about embracing the hard, narrow and long road to salvation. To have the teens sit in the tension we need to:
- Have Them Talk About It – Whether it’s a certain song everyones listening to or a topic that’s causing division amongst friends and peers, it’s important to address it with our students. Pretending and hoping that it will go away never works. By talking about a topic you teach them how to listen to the story beneath the story, the problem beneath the problem and the sin beneath the sin. Not everything is what it seems at first and we need to show our teens how to have that prudence and fortitude.
- Let Them Be Real With God – It’s easy to give our students the impression that when we accept Christ in our life that we have to be 100% joyfully in agreement with God. If we don’t give them the permission to question, doubt and get angry with God, we aren’t allowing them to have a real relationship with Him. If they can’t see the relationship as real, it will be easy for them to stop believing after a while.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Disagree – Don’t compromise your faith to make a teen happy. It’s not about sharing what they want to hear, it’s what they need to hear. We need to give our students credit that they will be able to handle hard truth. In fact with a lack of barriers, rules and guidelines in this world people are thirsty for it. Teens are looking for something to believe in that is rock solid.
- Remind Them Of His Love – In the end we have to remind teens that God will love them regardless of who they are, and what they’ve done. His love is always there and it’s up to us whether we want to live in that love. By reminding them of His love we also teach them how to love those who are and who live different from us. By reminding them of His love we empower them to make the right change that will bring this world closer together.
When we force an issue down our teen’s throat we are at risk of pushing them away from God. We need to be firm in our beliefs and clear with what the church teaches; however, we have to acknowledge that accepting the path He has laid out for us isn’t always easy. Sitting in the tension is reminding them that their relationship with Him is a journey.
How do you teach teens to live in the tension? Is there anything you disagree with?