Teenagers and Guilt

Before going further, remind yourself of some of the key dynamics at play in your teenager:  extreme self-consciousness, idealized independence, and an abundance of ego.  Now imagine how guilt plays out in that natural psychosocial triumvirate that your teenager calls self.  Guilt is everywhere!  No matter that your teenager doesn’t give you a glimpse of his guilt, you need to know that it’s there, everyday.  And in huge portions.  He just hides it behind the closed bedroom door and the loud music blasting from his stereo.

In brief, guilt is part and parcel of every teenager.  If you heap on needless portions, it blows up in your face, which means hasta la vista to the connection between you and your teenager.  Focus on his integrity and stop short of playing the parent martyr.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 163

Consequences and Support

When it comes to discipline (which at heart means to teach), there are two different, yet complementary, components: consequences and support. Teenagers need consequences to get them to consider and reflect upon what they have done. In essence, the consequence makes space for the learning. But make no mistake about it, the consequence seldom, if ever, does the teaching. Support is what enables your teenager to realize that she had other options that she could have and should have chosen. But most important, support helps her to understand why she did what she did, which goes a long way to preventing another lapse in her choices farther down the road.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 159-160

The Best Promise

Everything that happens to you is for your own good.  If the waves roll against you, it only speeds your ship toward the port.  If lightning and thunder comes, it clears the atmosphere and promotes your soul’s health.  You gain by loss, you grow healthy in sickness, you live by dying, and you are made rich in losses.

Could you ask for a better promise?  It is better that all things should work for my good than all things should be as I would wish to have them.  All things might work for my pleasure and yet might all work my ruin.  If all things do not always please me, they will always benefit me.

This is the best promise of this life.

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon, quoted in The Promise, by Robert J. Morgan

The Painful Reality of Sin

If we think of hell as the state in which God allows the painful reality of sin to hit home, then we can understand both the terrible imagery used in Scripture to portray such a fate and the urgent warning to avoid the wide road that leads in that direction.  It also removes the objection that God is being presented as a cosmic torturer hurting people until they agree to follow him.  God does not torture anybody — he simply withdraws his protection that allows people to live under the illusions that sin is not necessarily harmful to a truly human life.  The natural (though none the less God-ordained) consequences of sin take their course, and it becomes harder and harder to fool oneself into believing the seductive lies of sin anymore.  In this way hell is educative and points us towards our need for divine mercy.

— Gregory MacDonald, The Evangelical Universalist, p. 136


And so God must, from time to time, and sometimes very insistently, disrupt our lives so that we release our grasping of life here and now.  Usually through pain.  God is asking us to let go of the things we love and have given our hearts to, so that we can give our hearts even more fully to him.  He thwarts us in our attempts to make life work so that our efforts fail, and we must face the fact that we don’t really look to God for life.  Our first reaction is usually to get angry with him, which only serves to make the point.  Don’t you hear people say, “Why did God let this happen?” far more than you hear them say, “Why aren’t I more fully given over to God?”

We see God as a means to an end rather than the end itself.  God as the assistant to our life versus God as our life.  We don’t see the process of our life as coming to the place where we are fully his and he is our all.  And so we are surprised by the course of events.

It’s not that God doesn’t want us to be happy.  He does.  It’s just that he knows that until we are holy, we cannot really be happy. . . .

We are so committed to arranging for a happy little life that God has to thwart us to bring us back to himself. . . .

Now, I am not suggesting that God causes all the pain in our lives. . . .  But pain does come, and what will we do with it?  What does it reveal?  What might God be up to?  How might he redeem our pain?  those are questions worth asking.

Don’t waste your pain.

— John Eldredge, Walking with God, p. 87-88

Happily Ever After

Every fairy tale, it seems, concludes with the bland phrase “happily ever after.”  Yet every couple I have ever known would agree that nothing about marriage is forever happy.  There are moments of bliss, to be sure, and lengthy spans of satisfied companionship.  yet these come at no small effort, and the girl who reads such fiction dreaming her troubles will end ere she departs the altar is well advised to seek at once a rational woman to set her straight.

Princess Ben, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Love Changes Us.

I had this unoriginal thought as I walked out the door and toward my van:  love changes us, makes us into people whom others then want to love.  That’s why, to those of us without it, love is the voice asking, What else?  What else?  And to those of us who have had love and lost it or thrown it away, then love is the voice that leads us back to love, to see if it might still be ours or if we’ve lost it for good.  For those of us who’ve lost it, love is also the thing that makes us speak in aphorisms about love, which is why we try to get love back, so we can stop speaking that way.  Aphoristically, that is.

Sam Pulsifer, in An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, by Brock Clarke