By Lindy Diffenbaugh
[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou will watch as your sons and daughters are taken away as slaves. Your heart will break as you long for them and nothing you do will help. Deuteronomy 28:32. Our children’s salvation is a weighty matter. Like the Word reflects when our teens are lured into the bondage of drugs, self-abusive behaviors, gay-lesbian relationships, pornography, or any of the many debilitating behaviors that plague teenagers today, our hearts break into many pieces. The things that captivate teens today are serious; they are deadly. If we are honest, the impact of these things on our children is the deepest heartbreak that we will ever know. And nothing we do to lead our rebellious teenagers out of darkness seems to help.
On the other hand, there was no greater joy in life than the birth of that child. The innocence and potential of this new creation brought a sense of unworthiness. It demanded the best from us and evoked a depth and sincerity of heart that we had not known before. It seemed normal for us to make a vow that, “As long as I live, as long as I have anything to say about it, I will keep this child out of harm’s way,” The commitment was made before God with the intention that it would be kept until our dying day.
Good parents find it easy to sacrifice their best to provide their children with the best that they can lay hold of in the world, year in and year out. Despite the sacrifices, without warning and without mercy, the teen years hit and it is evident that something very wrong is happening to that child. Somehow the thought that the forces of darkness would seduce innocence is difficult to grasp. In fact the vow was made to protect this child from these things. Self-blame is a normal response. It was never supposed to be this way. Your “best” should have been enough to hold that child on the straight and narrow, safest pathways of life. The most difficult and bewildering thing to reckon with is that they become willing participants in their own demise. You watch, you game plan, you discipline, and you erect iron-tight, healthy boundaries that their behavior demands of you. Despite your efforts nothing you do seems to help.
An Assignment of Destruction Has Been Unleashed on Teenagers
Unless you have lived through teenage rebellion, the nature of it is not evident. It’s easy to believe that parents just don’t care anymore; they are standing back and watching while hell is belching out its worst on a generation of innocent teens. Whether you are a parent or a spectator it is evident that hell has saved its most debilitating and insidious demons for this generation. Volumes have been written to reveal and mitigate the effects of what the enemy has engineered and launched against children when the parents of this world were not looking, so it seems. From those volumes, strategies, programs, theoretical solutions, and the best the wisdom man can offer emanates. The government has intervened, the private sector has thrown millions at the problem, yet it still persists; the problem has intensified in homes, in schools, in fact, most anywhere you turn today the tragedy of teenage rebellion is flourishing, seemingly without remedy.
Our Generation Has Opened the Door for this Curse
Sacred law demands a high standard of righteousness so that all will go well with us and so that we can live at peace on the earth. If you are using a compass to navigate your way through the woods, one degree off here and one degree there will land you in a place you never intended to go. That is exactly where we are in the world today. That is why our teenagers are not on course. We have allowed free sex in our homes and on the big screen. We work under the table and integrity has gone out the window. We have sought after mammon and left our children in the hands of people who know not God. We have allowed the killing of innocent babies. for the sake of personal convenience. We have taken prayer out schools and some cringe when the name of Jesus is spoken from the senate floor. We tone down the things that we speak from a public gathering so that others are not offended by our spiritual indoctrination. We can speak of gay and lesbian marriages, the legalization of marijuana, pre-marital sex, and anything else under the sun. These topics go uncensored. But we whisper the things of God hoping that no one will take offense. We have allowed our children’s minds, hearts and souls to be filled with the things that are vile, yet we wonder why they are overtaken by darkness. We have gorged them with the problem and starved their souls of the solution. The Church has given up too much territory to the forces of darkness, and our children are being carried into slavery by forces of darkness.
They Need a Compass
How do we lead teenagers out of rebellion? 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us to humble ourselves, pray, turn from our wicked ways and seek the face of God. If we do that then He promises to hear from heaven and heal our land. I do maintain that prayer is the springboard for change, and I am fully persuaded that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous church will avail much. But I speculate that to lead teenagers out of rebellion, what we must provide them above all else is a compass.
Let me explain. When our teenagers are in rebellion, we turn to pastors, counselors, and other experts for help. But I postulate that the greatest heart connection and ultimate influence over that teen can be found in the parental relationship. Without a doubt between the ages of 12 and 18 that influence is put on trial. But if we take responsibility for the condition of our own hearts and we allow the trial to cause us to take an inward look and move us toward repentance and change, we have taken the first step towards reconciling our teens back to God. Why do we need to look at ourselves? We live in a time when our kids don’t need a lecture from self-righteous parents who have been there, done that, and have prepared a lecture to save their teens from the pitfalls that we ourselves could not avoid. What they need is a compass. In other words, we need to live our lives in such a way that they can look to us and find their way home.
As an aspiring Army officer in training in the late 70’s, part of my qualification was to pass a compass course. I was dropped off somewhere deep in the woods of Fort Benning, Georgia with nothing but a map and a compass to find my way home. I was on course until I realized that I had lost my compass. A deep panic gripped my soul. I wandered through the woods until it was almost dark before I found my way home. I had a map that provided a detailed depiction of the landscape that I had to negotiate. However, I soon found out that without a compass, the map was useless.
If you are like me, you have taught your children values, morals, and the principles of the Word of God from the cradle. My babies got the best moral lessons that Veggie Tales could offer. They went to church every Sunday and most Wednesdays. I was even fortunate enough to send them to a Christian School where they were taught from a Bible based curriculum. I gave my children a very good map to negotiate through this life. Despite my best efforts, they eventually rebelled. Two of my five children were seduced into drugs and alcohol by the age of 12. Another one of my children threw herself into this same culture starting on her 18th birthday. The things that they involved themselves in could have led to their arrest or death, had it not been for my prayers and the Grace of God. Dietrich Bonhoffer said, “Before I can believe in your Redeemer, I have to see that you are redeemed.” Our Christian walk is closely scrutinized by our teenagers. They are looking for a solid walk with the God we profess to believe in. As we look at our own hearts, can we say that over time as our teens have observed our walk with God that we have been true to what we have “preached” to them. Can they depend on us to respond to morally challenging circumstances in a way that would bring honor to God? Can they trust us to stand-by our words and live what we believe? Our lectures are empty if we do not show our children that we are deeply committed to the integrity of our faith and if we do not demonstrate to them that our principles of faith are real and that the Word of God is active and alive in our daily walk.
As a parent I have often had to confront compromising moral situations that my children had involved themselves in. When I stood in judgment of their deeds and magnified their wrongs, a wall would go up in their hearts. They shut me out and discounted everything good thing I tried to teach them. While I gave them the best of my wisdom, I came to the place that I realized that no more words were available to communicate the pain in my heart, my concern for their personal efforts towards self-destruction, and their need to change. It was then that I realized that what they needed was a compass.
I had to decide in my own heart what was right for me. Then I had to maintain my own integrity by walking a consistent walk to back-up my decision. As I groped for answers and appropriate interventions, I realized that there was little I or anyone else could say to influence my teens to change their ways. I came to a place that it did not matter anymore what they were doing or what they got themselves involved in; my job was to be who I was in God. Regardless of where they found themselves in the middle of the night, I found myself before the throne of grace interceding for their futures and destinies in God. While they were sneaking around in darkness, living lives of lies and deception, I was standing before God, angels, and demons calling those things that were not as though they were in their lives. Regardless of what they did to break down society, I was committed to prayer and service to people who wanted positive change in their lives. While they were working to test and destroy our relationship, I was praying that God would give me the grace to love the unlovely.
It is important to mention that I did not do any of these things to manipulate God to come and rescue my family. I did them because I knew that they would honor the Lord. I knew this is what He expected of me. When my teenagers finally came out of the grip of darkness they acknowledged that they found strength even during their rebellion, when they heard me praying at night and in the fact that I would not compromise on the principles of faith that I held. In a way, my life had become a compass to lead my rebellious teenagers home.
God has done exceedingly and abundantly above all that I believed or expected. The bottom line is that we don’t have to fix them; we just have to be committed to walk with God and to walk before others with honesty and integrity. It is not necessary to achieve perfection in this walk. It is only required that we are sincere in your desire to honor God and to be a compass for a generation of teens who are lost deep in the woods of life. We must redeem the time because it is getting dark and there are still many who have not found their way Home.
If you are in the throes of teenage rebellion and confusion, and you need some Godly direction and support, give me a call. I encourage you to stand in prayer daily and do battle with the enemy while you call down the grace of God. His grace is sufficient and it is HIS will that not one of your teenagers should perish.
Lindy Diffenbaugh is a Mental Health Therapist and Life Coach by Profession. She has worked in the mental health field for over17-years counseling and coaching men and women, boys and girls as well as teenagers. For a private consult you can contact her on her private number at 904-463-0930.