How could it be? It seems like it was just yesterday when I was holding my oldest grandson in my arms. Now, he is on the threshold of entering his teenage years. My grandson, Jack, is starting a new stage of life. Voices from many different spheres of life will be demanding his attention. As he begins to separate from the safety of his home, he will have new decisions to make. According to writers of The Power of the Blessing, Terry and Melissa Bone, our souls ask unique questions at the entrance of each stage of life. The major question asked by a child entering puberty at the beginning of their teen years is, "Do I have what it takes to make it in this world?"
Life is designed to help us discover our true identities—the one God ordained. Along with this, God has a divine destiny for us. His desire is to bless us, as was shown at creation when He created mankind in His image. "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it...’" (Genesis 1:28) The teenage years are critical ones for identity formation. To help in this process, the Lord has assigned certain people, particularly parents and grandparents, to bless them through their words and deeds and to affirm who they are.
The Bones make an interesting analogy in their book that describes a teenager as an arrow, based on Psalm 127:4-5. "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." The Bones say, "Children, like mere sticks in a warrior's hands, require shaping. For a while they are protected in a quiver, but there comes a time when they must be taken from their safe place, loaded into a bow, aimed, and fixed at God's destination for their lives. Puberty is that time. Fathers have spiritual authority to call forth their sons and daughters from childhood into maturity. We like to say that a mother is called to string the bow and a father to shoot the arrow. But to shoot an arrow, it first has to be aimed. The shift in spiritual roles of mothers and fathers during the teen years needs to be accompanied by a shift in our parenting approach from teacher to coach." (Page 81)
We can see this scenario being played out when Jesus went to the Temple to engage with the rabbis. Jesus had to remind His parents of the call on His life. The first recognition of His call came from those outside of His immediate family. Teens are looking for honor from family members who will listen to them. The rabbis in the Temple listened to Jesus because they recognized the insight He had been given.
How can we who have teenagers in our lives encourage and bless them? We can be good listeners. We can be sure that every word we speak to them imparts a sense of value and worth. Birthday parties are meant to impart blessing to children. If a child wanders from the straight path, we can pray for them and forgive and love them. We must always remember that the Lord is on our side and that we partner with Him in helping teenagers realize that they do have what they need in their lives to make it in the world. Not only that, but the Lord does also "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..." (Ephesians 3:20)
Joan E. Mathias