Vol. 3 Issue 48 | December 1, 2017
Three Things This Week
1. Isolation vs. Solitude
What it is: “Isolation is putting yourself in a cage. Solitude is putting your distractions in a cage.”
Why it’s fascinating: In case you’re wondering, we didn’t say that. A middle schooler said it to us. Someone give that kid a scholarship! We think it’s worth discussing. First, ask your teens what they think the difference between isolation and solitude is. Then read the quotation to them and get their reactions to it. Do they agree or disagree? Why? Does it capture the full depth of isolation and solitude? Why or why not? Do they seek solitude? Are they afraid of it? Where does loneliness fit into the picture? What does culture seem to say about solitude? And what’s the biblical picture of solitude and/or isolation? “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and for Him alone.” (This article is a great resource for discussing solitude!)
2. Overwhelming Holidays?
What it is: If the holidays are a time that triggers stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, loneliness, or myriad other negative emotions for you or your teens, a surprising source has great advice.
Why it’s helpful: As she points out, the holidays can add pressure to our already stressful lives because of the expectations to enjoy them, be thankful, and please everyone. For those struggling with mental illness of any kind, it can also throw us off our game by hijacking our routines and schedules. Her advice—to take time for yourself—is not only great to remind ourselves, but also to remember for our teens. If there’s an activity or event that your teen doesn’t want to attend because they feel stressed out by everything, consider allowing them to opt out. If they seem to be withdrawing or on the brink of a meltdown, give them space to rest. And above all, make sure they know you’re on their side and want to provide a safe environment with good boundaries that allows them to get and stay healthy.
3. Streaming in December
What it is: In case you’re wondering what your teens will be able to stream this month, here’s a helpful list of all the new media coming to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon in December.
Why it’s important: A proactive conversation could prevent a hundred reactive conversations (and punishments). Knowing what our teens have access to before they are influenced by it so that we can discuss it first is highly valuable for their hearts and minds. Take some time to peruse the list with your teens, ask them what they’re interested in, and do some research on them together, asking them questions like: What’s good about it? What’s wrong? What’s missing? What’s confused? Some notable additions are Superbad (comedy, 2007), Hitch (romcom, 2005), Rocky 1-5 (1976-1990), Silence of the Lambs (horror, 1991), Dark season 1 (mystery, 2017), and 8 Mile (drama, 2002).
Sunday, December 3 is the first day of Advent, and the first day of the Christian year. This four-week-long season within the liturgical calendar is a period of penitent preparation for the coming of Christ. Meaning “coming” or “arrival,” Advent points to and causes us to reflect on three distinct arrivals: 1. Christ’s first arrival in Bethlehem; 2. His second coming in the future; and 3. His arrival in each of our hearts personally. It’s a time of waiting, reflecting, contemplation, repentance, longing, and, in the midst of all these (and most importantly), hope.
In today’s day and age, when the Thanksgiving decorations are barely put away before the Christmas tree is lit, we tend to move from one season of celebration to another, without pausing to remember what and why we’re celebrating. Advent reminds us that we are a people of promise in a world of impatience. “Advent, more than any other time of the church year, invites us to embrace the spiritual discipline of waiting.”
If you’ve ever found yourself tired of Christmas once Christmas actually arrived, or if you’ve experienced the huge letdown of December 26, this way of observing Advent and then Christmas brings a more natural cycle of waiting and anticipating, then celebrating. The hope is that if we observe Advent, we will love Christmas even more. If your family has never observed Advent or you want new ideas to implement this season, check out our Parent’s Guide to Advent!
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