Loving My Teenager

Wow…it’s been awhile.  That’s how life is sometimes I guess.  Priorities shift, seasons come and go, life happens.  I started this blog last year during a painful season when I discovered that reflecting and putting words on paper was cathartic.

ca·thar·tic
providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions; causing catharsis.

Then things got better.
Then they got bad again.
Life is seasonal.

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http://www.theparentcue.org/

Today I am wrestling with Jesus’s command to love one another as you’ve been loved (John 15:12).  Ironically, I’ve spent the past summer studying and applying lessons of love.  I’ve studied, read, and even started an intentional meditation practice  to discover and apply lovingkindness to myself and others.  It’s been a journey to say the least but I can say with confidence that I am a more compassionate person as a result.  We are certainly not done yet but God has been at work in my heart.

Now most people when they hear the command to love often have a picture of someone in their mind and think “no way”, “not him/her”,  etc.  We all do it.

But what if that person in your mind is your own child?  Your teenager to be specific?  It almost feels blasphemous to write it “out loud” in this time and place in our society when our children are celebrated and elevated in social media and in our circles of friends.

Of course I “love” my child.  More than life itself.  But, in this season, he is rather unlovable.  His actions, attitude and choices are harmful to himself and our family.  I’m furious with him.  Like take him by his scuff and slam his head in the counter furious. I’m fearful. I’m so sad. I’ve had some of my worst mothering moments in this season which also gives me grief.  I cry almost everyday.

I also know I’m not the only mom that feels this way and that’s why I’m confessing my struggle.  There is peace in knowing that others have and are walking our path.  I also know that I don’t know all the answers.  Hell, if I knew the answers we wouldn’t be here now would we.

But let’s get back to the question at hand shall we…one that has me confessing, pondering, and on my knees…what does it look like to love our teenagers as Jesus loves us? Here’s where I’ve landed today…

First and foremost, when I think of Jesus’s love for me, it’s that He loved me first – when I was/am unlovable.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

It’s not conditional on my behavior.  It’s a verb and not a feeling. It’s a tender and compassionate love. But it’s also a consuming fire.  God wants me to be holy and that requires discipline and direction.  He does not grow weary of me – he does not run away and hide.  He does not check out. He loves me even when I am unlovable.

And then I think about his grace and compassion for me. He knows I am a fallen, imperfect, weak human being.  And yet he still loves me.  So what does that look like between a parent and child?  How do you balance grace, compassion and forgiveness but not enable/condone bad behavior?  More than anything, staying connected with the Holy Spirit.  I CANNOT do this in my own power.  We were never intended to love others in our own power. John 14:26-27. Furthermore, Jesus KNEW the Truth – well – he is the Truth but hopefully you get the point.  He knew the scriptures and how to apply them to his life.  He also took time away to pray and spend time with His Father before spending time with others.  He knew to rest and where his power came from. He wasn’t a lone ranger.

His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Finally, my primary mission field is my home.  My actions reflect my walk with God.  John 13:35 says By this (love) everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  On top of everything else going on, my child is questioning his faith.  You can bet everything I say and do is being analyzed, dissected and most likely criticized. It has never been more important to walk in truth and love.  I can only do that in His power and moment by moment.  Staying connected is my only hope.

I’ll leave you with lyrics of a song we sang at church this morning… although we were worshipping the Lord, I’d like to think my child, if not today, will someday look back at this season and feel the same way about me.

Your love never fails
Never gives up
Never runs out on me.

Blessings and love – DM

Donna Matthews is a blog writer at the DJRanch where she strives to remain authentic while not taking herself too seriously. She is also the creator of Slay The Chaos (www.slaythechaos.com), where she writes about productivity and organization. She is a member of The Writers Guild and Write Space in Houston and is currently writing her first book.
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