It’s a hard world out there for teens.  They’ve seen protests this year like none other, against injustices, and that’s a good thing.  However, they’ve seen violence coupled with those protests, where people were hurt.  And that’s a bad thing.  They’ve been sheltered at home because of a virus, where they’ve been with family nonstop – which hopefully was a good thing.  However, they’re missing their friends and their hangouts and feeling depressed, and that’s a bad thing.  They are seeing and hearing and learning about life and maturity and respect for their fellow man, and that’s a good thing.  However, they’re wondering about life and if they want to mature, who’s worthy of respect, and that can be a bad thing.

There are two sides to every coin, aren’t there?  There’s the head and the tail, and only one of those is a winner when tossed to see which way the coin lands.  

Given that analogy, how do we help our teens navigate these waters we haven’t even navigated, and end up safe and secure without capsizing into a sea of anxiety and frustration with God, people, and life itself?  I’m sure there are self-help books, pills, and escapes that our teens can find, but we need to offer them lasting peace.

How can we do that?

The protests – Don’t leave your teens to watch the protests and then say nothing.  We have to talk.  And we cannot bash the protesters, the policemen, or whatever party we think is wrong.  We need to have intelligent discussions with our teens about injustice and what God says about it, why it’s present, and what can be done as Christians.  We can even take our teens to a civil protest if we can find one, and show them how to stand up for their fellow man, without taking aim at other people in the process.  And if that’s too dangerous, we can read stories in the bible about injustice and what God told his people to do – to pray, love others, and give.  That’s HUGE.  And we can certainly pray for our leaders and the upcoming election.

The racism – Racism has been around as long as I can remember, and thankfully we don’t live during the time of slavery.  And yet…here it is…still present…those lines we draw and judgments we hurl.  We as parents can be the best model of loving people no matter their skin color, and our teens will observe and follow suit.  We can make sure our circle of friends includes every person, no matter their race, economic status or any difference at all.  We don’t have to be afraid to like different. Jesus liked different and sought out the outcast of society, to meet them where they were and bring hope and love.  We can train our teens to walk away from racial slurs, to welcome friends that look different than they do, and to have conversations with all people – not just of different races – but those that are wheelchair bound, those who are ill, and more.  Racism is just a symptom of a deeper wound, one our kids do not have to carry around.

The virus – By now, all teens everywhere are sick of restrictions and rules and coverings and protection.  They just want to play ball, hang with their friends, go to parties and be.  We’re all tired of it.  Right now, at this present time, the coin has landed on the unchosen side and it’s not being tossed up to land on the opposite side just yet.  Hopefully, our teens have put into practice some great hygiene habits that will carry them the rest of their lives.  As we continue to be cautious, we can pray together and ask big – ask God to heal our land and our people and our friends.  We can ask Him to grant us patience and give us ideas to creatively connect with others that we may not have sought out, had the virus not occurred.

In other words, we can train our kids to yes – acknowledge those bad things that are out there all around us.  But we can teach them the value of the word “however,” that transitional term that means there’s a counter statement coming to the one just made.  There’s always something good to find in the middle of bad.  In fact, God is always working things together for good even when we can’t see it.  There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel if we keep traveling forward, and we are, when we love Him and love others.

That’s the key to handling this difficult season.  Love God.  Love others.  And that’s going to be a daily, or maybe hour by hour, choice that we all have to make while the bad side is up…until the coin’s tossed again…and heads up – the however begins.

by Marcy Lytle

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