What has happened to American Youth
That is a question near and dear to my heart. I’ve been involved in youth leadership for r over 20 years both in the ministry and the secular world of substance abuse prevention; and in that 20 years the deterioration of attitudes and respect is apparent. Having gotten into the ministry when my children were in their teens I witnessed first hand what happens when you try to fit square pegs into round holes. By that I mean when you take children who have not had faith as a primary focus in the home and then suddenly it is. My girls were very, very patient with me as I discovered Jesus and then took our lives on a 360 degree turn from worldliness to faith based living. It wasn’t always easy for them, but they knew the difference it had made in my life. They’ll tell you that they were not perfect children and that I was far from a perfect mother. Mistakes were made! Sins were committed. And by God’s grace we all survived. But the reality of it is, today’s youth have far more exposure to evil than the last generation. Evil has always been, but I don’t believe there has ever been an attack on the home to such a degree as Satan has launched in the past 10 years.
Dear Frustrated Parent, I see you.
I watched as your belligerent teen, flitted off after having completely ignored your request. I watched as your anger turned into a sickening knot in your stomach as you realize you’re no longer in control. I know there have been tear stains on your pillow from wondering how life got so out of control so fast, and that beautiful baby that you couldn’t wait to talk, you’d now like to shut up with duct tape. I can come to you as an experienced parent and now grandparent. I too am going through it, but this time from the back seat, it’s a new generation. So I write this letter to offer you hope and to give advice from a non-judgmental perspective. Please read my words and know that each one is written in absolute love and brokenness for you and your family.
I do not know if you know Christ as your Savior. I’m the Jesus Chick, so that’s how I approach everything in life. Since I’m unsure, I’ll proceed assuming you are not saved. Please don’t feel judged either way. Seeing that young parent involvement in the church is almost nil and I know from my interaction with many local churches, the youth departments are not overflowing with children, so the odds are not in your favor that you’re saved. There’s a handful of children in each church at best, and yet there are over 1029 students registered in public schools in Calhoun County. So here we are where the rubber meets the road in my life: how can I convince you that Christ will make a difference in your family life and that church might possibly be what saves you from heading to the duct tape isle at Walmart, wondering at what age you can tie a child up and have it not be considered abuse, or loan them out to someone for labor until their 18. You know that’s a joke because nobody would expect a teen to know anything about labor.
What you may not know about the church
They are filled with broken people just like you. Some of them know they’re broken and make no attempt to conceal it. Some pretend not to be broken (although they are) and make their life look like a social media post for the purpose of public consumption. They’re the pretty people that you strive to be like. Don’t bother. They’re messed up too! The only perfect person ever to be on the earth was Jesus. And even his parents lost him in a crowd for three days when He was twelve. (Luke 2:41-46) Church folks are trying to figure out life, just like you. The difference is they’re closer to the answer than you are, and have a support staff that you’re not afforded outside the church.
Support staff? That’s right! People that God has placed in your path to help in the rearing of your children. No, they won’t take them home for the weekend, nor will they pay for college. But they will spend 45 minutes to an hour in the Sunday School class teaching your children what public schools are no longer allowed to teach, right from wrong, manners, respect, and the truth about evil and most of all about Jesus. And while they’re in their own class, you have a class you can go to (away from kids!) that will teach you about the dangers your family is facing, who is attacking you, and how to safeguard your family from those attacks.
When I began church on February 18, 1996 at Victory Baptist Church I was of all people most miserable. My marriage was failing, my kids were at the brink of the teen years and I was clueless as to the solution of fixing my family. You’ll note that I remember the date my life life changed. It coincided with the date I began a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a massive transformation, I kid you not, but it was not immediate. Like everything it was a process, but you have to start somewhere.
So now you know, nobody’s perfect. Point two
The Pastor’s not perfect either. Shocker!
But what he is, is a mouthpiece for God. He’s the man that God is going to hold accountable for his direction and instruction of us. You know, the messed up people. God has tasked him with the job of leading His (God’s) army into battle against those are trying to tear your family apart. Only one weapon is required, the word of God. You only need to know the truth to defend your family, and that’s something the world will not tell you, but a good preacher will. The world is full of deceivers and liars who want to sell you an elixir that will “fix” anything that ails you.
Have you fallen out of love? Buy this…
Are your children unhappy? Buy this…
Is your home lacking? Buy this…
Have you lost your sanity? We found it! Buy this…
No. None of that is for sale on Amazon or Walmart. Only God can fix every single one of those issues. I know from experience. He fixed them all for me. God did that by leading me to a church where the Pastor and the people took me under their wing and helped me discover the truth about why I was falling out of love. Why my children weren’t happy and why my home was never enough.
And for my final word (though I could go on for days)
Stop beating yourself up and just continue to love your children.
There’s another story in Luke 15:11-32, the story of the prodigal son. Imagine being a good father, and then having your son ask for his inheritance early so he could squander it way on wild women and living. It happened, and then he returns home, but a humbler boy. The father did not chastise him and remind him of his utter failure. He embraced him, loved on him and threw a party, because his son had come home! Children are like us, they make mistakes too. They don’t need you to beat them over the head with guilt, but rather teach them how to admit failure, accept forgiveness, and move on to a victorious life. They need to see that in you too! Forgive yourself first. God has.
As I said, I could write to you for days of my experience! But I wont’. We’ll stop here. I encourage you to find your church. (Of course I’m hoping it’s mine) But find yourself a church family that will give you the support in these trying times. You need it. And God has made a way for you to have it. The local church.