There is only one sure thing about teenagers: every moment is absolute bliss. Or absolute agony.
It is either the “best day of my WHOLE LIFE! I am SO HAPPY!” or “this is the worst day of my WHOLE LIFE! I am so SAD!”
A parent of kids older than ours once told me “If you can parent through a hitting slump, goal drought and first-love breakup, you can parent through anything. Just pray all three don’t hit at once. That’s superhuman parenting.”
Oh was she right.
Our little corner of our little community just went through a week of extremes. And one thing helped us through it all.
First, “Why not?”
On Sunday, our teenage son Matty and his Bantam hockey team won the Championship in a glorious Roseau, MN, tournament. We’d spent the long weekend with amazing families who share our values, passion for active kids–and craving for a good drink and a lot of laughs. We rode a coach bus to and from Roseau and all over town together. We stayed in the same hotel and spent nearly every moment together.
So could a bunch of boys from a southern suburb beat tough North Dakota and northern Minnesota hockey teams? Why not? They believed and played hard…and they did win. They were so proud. We all were. Are.
It was a weekend full of awesome memories. Makes me smile just thinking about it.
Three days later, teenager Alyssa Ettl was killed in a traffic accident, less than a block from Lakeville North High School. It hit hard. Perhaps especially her schoolmates, left wondering not only why?, but what next? what if? If your best friend or sibling or parent is suddenly gone, then what?
One sure thing
So how do these kids … or any of us … get through such extremes? One thing: Faith and understanding of God and His Word. Not to go all God Squad on you, but it became very clear to the teenagers I have been around that there is one sure thing, and that’s God. He may give you the talent and opportunities to win a Hockey Tourney Championship. And He may call back one of his angels like Alyssa.
It’s not enough to recite a few prayers over supper or at bedtime. Talk about faith. Ask questions. Listen to kids’ questions. Try to find answers. Find a church. Go. Even if you have newborns or toddlers, go. How else will they learn to behave in God’s House? Enroll kids in religion classes so they gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word. They’ll see His Touch in all that is good in their lives…and feel His Hand in helping them through all that is horrible. None of us will be here for them forever. Give them Someone who will be.
Another friend told me, “I talk to God all the time. He’s my best friend.”
That’s what I want for today’s teenagers.
Then the answer to Why? and Why not? will always point exactly where it belongs: their Best Friend. And that’s something that will ease these teenagers to adulthood.