Vol. 3 Issue 37 | September 15, 2017
Three Things This Week
1. Waning Excitement
What it is: On a recent speaking tour of Asia, our team met a student in Taiwan who expressed guilt for not always feeling ecstatic about God, even though “He is worthy of it.”
Why it’s important: The greatest commandment is to love God with every part of our being. But in 2017, “love” is commonly mis-defined in terms of feelings instead of action or commitment. It is both a relief and a reality check that love isn’t primarily about maintaining honeymoon feelings toward God forever, but rather, as it says in 1 John 5, about keeping His commands. Christianity is a journey, and along the way we will feel intense excitement about God, but not always. Regardless of how they feel, help your teens remember that loving God is much bigger than fleeting feelings, it is the daily journey toward holiness.
2. Freedom Calls?
Why it’s trendsetting: Other tech companies will follow suit, meaning it will be considered normal to never unplug, to talk to our wrists, and to potentially erase the line between play and work. So whether your teens get the new watch or not, the way it changes our collective perception of normal will impact them. Sure, it may slightly reduce our dependence on our phones, but it’s really just replacing one tech tool for another. Use this as an opportunity to spark family conversations about tech boundaries, and then help each other stick to them!
3. Kylie’s Not Immune
Why it’s sad: Kylie first appeared with plump lips in 2014, meaning she was 16 years old when she got lip injections. Since then, her lips have changed beauty standards everywhere, leading to young girls taking the painful “Kylie Jenner Challenge” and using expensive lip plumpers to achieve the look. Tons of other female celebs have followed suit, and according to one plastic surgeon, “young girls in their early 20s and their late teens are getting lip fillers everywhere.” All because of one boy’s comments and how they fed into a star’s insecurities. Two quick takeaways: 1. Teach your children to face, and overcome their insecurities (see below), not ignore them; and 2. Help them understand that “the tongue has the power to bring life or death”, and if they cannot control their tongue, they may not be able to control their future.
Hurricanes: While Harvey victims are in the process of rebuilding, let’s not forget them or those who have recently been affected by Hurricane Irma (especially in the Caribbean).
Helping Your Teens Navigate the First-Half of Life
Sunday marked the first day of National Suicide Prevention Week, designed to spark conversations that help #StopSuicide, especially among teens. Research suggests students struggling with low self-esteem have higher than normal suicide risk due to self-rejection. But if self-esteem is simply feeling good about your outer self, is it possible self-esteem can be self-defeating?
Our kids are in the midst of navigating the first half of life, dominated by the formation of their identity (Who am I?). Complicating matters is the tension between their true self as image-bearers and their false self or sin nature. This false self seeks to find love and acceptance through appearance, reputation, possessions, or role (cheerleader, jock, etc.). It’s more concerned about the container (the outward self) than the contents (the heart and soul). It’s the self they think they need to be in order to be accepted, and it’s based on performance. Interestingly enough, research shows that not being popular in high school may actually be good for long-term mental health! Call it whatever you want, low self-esteem or self-rejection, it’s the belief that at their core, they are not good enough, and that leads to hopelessness. This type of “self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice” that calls them “Beloved.”
Remind your kids that “before the creation of the world” God chose them to be His sons and daughters. Therefore, their deepest identity is who they are in Christ, not who they project themselves to be at school or on social media. Ask them if they really believe God sees them exactly as they are and cannot help but love them. “Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change.” It sounds too scandalous to be true doesn’t it? But true it is. Model the love of God to your kids by offering unconditional love instead of merit-based approval, and mercy in the place of condemnation. Then they can rest in the knowledge that love and acceptance is not something they earn, but is freely given intrinsically because of whose they are.
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