Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Letters to a Teenager

At his service of blessing (or "Christian bar mitzvah"), Bantam13 received so many wonderful words of advice and challenge. I haven't seen the video yet, but I do know that two of the men told Papa Rooster that the highlight for them was what Bantam17 said, about what to do when life gets hard. Remember he's the autistic one, so it was moving to hear him speak so eloquently about feelings and suffering. (I am becoming more convinced that B17 has the soul of a poet. What will the Lord do with that??)

As I say, I have not read or heard all the good words yet, but I happen to have emailed copies of two of the letters he received. They are so excellent I'm going to excerpt from them here. We're giving our other teenagers copies of these as well!

Letter #1:

...Hard work and motivation are the keys to success. I know it's cliche. Your challenge will be to find a worthy focus for your efforts. I went to college not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sometimes...I still wonder. I know a lot of people who lost their way. But I know a lot of people who did fabulous things with very limited means, just because they refused to quit and they had a goal.

There are many roads in life that you may take. In my experience, God has given me a lot of leeway to decide my future. Oftentimes, I wish he'd be a little more obvious and make my choices for me, but that's not the way he has worked with me. My options have always been wide open. It's been up to me to decide my fate. Maybe it'll be the same for you.

I pray for wisdom, more than any other single thing.

Read a lot. Study history. It lends perspective and provides free lessons.

Choose your friends carefully. They can be your biggest inspiration or your quickest downfall. Stay plugged in with a church group, and find others who will hold you accountable. I've often lacked that accountability in my traveling, and it's hurt my walk at times. It's too easy when no one's looking, to fall away.

There will be times when you will rebel and walk away from spiritual things. But don't lose sight of eternity.

...High school's going to be tough. You will be tempted with many things many times a day. Do a daily devotional. Make a habit of it. Find a way to distinguish yourself as a Christian. You should be different in many ways, from the non-Christians who will vastly outnumber you.

The Christian walk is best executed one tiny step at a time. You will know you are making the right choices when you do the right thing when nobody is looking, when nobody will know. Honesty and integrity are sorely lacking in this world, yet they are the mark of a real man. It's not the action of one tsunami that erodes a beach. Rather, it's the continued action of small but powerful wave after wave that carries away the sand. Likewise, it's the small actions you choose day in and day out, that will mark your Christian walk - moving closer or farther away from your father in heaven.

Letter #2:

Dear [Bantam 13],

You are tall. You have cool hair. You have a fantastic personality. You have a great sense of humor. You are fun. People love you. Girls like you. ... I hope that things will always be as easy as they sound in the above words. I’m sure they haven’t been as easy as they have been described. But so many challenges are just beginning. When changes and challenges happen in your life they aren’t usually easy to spot from the inside.

A great many of your responsibilities, decisions/ choices have been strongly influenced, guided, sometimes demanded/ made by your parents and perhaps others. You have a strong foundation for making good future decisions and choices. More and more you will want to make up your own mind. This is a good thing. Remember your own mind does not belong to the world. It should not be compromised or weakened by it. Sometimes, oftentimes, the voices of friends or a girl, might be trying to influence you, move you, toward the seemingly mysterious depths of the world. Sometimes these are good people, even Christian people. I fear I have been the voice of the world to others countless times, influencing or even leading people to choices they will have to struggle against so much more vigorously if they had not been misled.

A great deal of what you know to be right has not yet met temptation, ego, the arrogant “knowledge” of others and your own experiences. With all that will come to challenge you, tempt you, mislead you, and cause you to stumble, remember that you should not meet these things on your own. You have already learned a great deal you can trust and much more that you can learn if you are not proud. Pray. Read the Bible. Trust your father and mother though they are capable (big time:) of error. Find others who follow the only Father, Son and Spirit who you can trust. Build good habits now.

Be willing to confess sin to these people. Be anxious to confess, be anxious to ask for help. You will make mistakes but- I like Proverbs 12:1. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”

13 years and much changes with your body. You become not only a man around this time of life but potentially a crazy man. The music and movie industries are 95 percent of the time a perfect example of the boy who never became a man. They depict the boy in transition. Transitioning forever into meaninglessness. Don’t be fooled by the world. Your body belongs to the Lord. You probably won’t feel that your body belongs to the Lord. It is a difficult thing to understand but the Lord gave you your body to give back to Him. You give it back to Him by glorifying Him with it. In this world He blesses us with consequences if we struggle against Him. The world thinks being gay is cool. The world thinks being rebellious is cool. The world thinks that “experimenting” with drugs, “opening your mind”, checking out chicks sexually for recreation is cool, so many other traps are “cool”. Don’t believe in cool. Cool is another word for “lukewarm”. You will love a girl or at least think you do. Slow down. The Lord demands a permanent commitment from us. “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” (and including relationships) “Commit to the Lord whatever you do , and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16: 2-3.

Becoming infatuated with the self is another struggle. Look to the Lord and he will show you the needs of others. The Lord himself will look to your needs. Beware of helping yourself and meeting your own “needs”.

If you, in conversations with peers in humble truthfulness should be called “hateful”, or “close minded”, and become more and more “un-cool” in their eyes, you should be strengthened by your loss of position in their eyes. You will experience, as you see more and more of the world, people lashing out against Christ. This Christ himself promised. People complain. This anger is against God. “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord” Proverbs 19:3.

Protect the weak.

My ears are yours when ever you need them. What I have is also yours. I love you and my family loves you.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've loved reading about what you have done with all of this. It has inspired me to think ahead to what I want that passage to be like for our son.

I dont think I was reading your blog when your teenage girl was that age (or maybe you weren't blogging then?) I'm curious if her ritual was similar?

Thanks for the inspiration!

Jen in Seattle

At A Hen's Pace said...

Jen, I started blogging about six weeks after Blondechick's 13th service of blessing, so I just missed posting about it!

It was very similar, only the liturgy PR wrote was calling her to femininity, and women were the ones giving their blessings. Also, we included men in her service. We felt it was more important for boys, who have the developmental task of separating from mother (and who have often had so many women teachers and authority figures growing up), to have only men there, but that it was better for our daughter to have her father there, blessing her and ministering the liturgy. It would have seemed weird for me to have led the service.

We did one for B17 when he turned 13, too. We'd be happy to share the whole liturgy with you, when your son gets a little closer to that age!

~Jeanne

Earthmommy said...

I was so inspired to read this. I will probably share it with my teenage daughters as it is just so full of wisdom. My favorite part was: "Choose your friends carefully. They can be your biggest inspiration or your quickest downfall."

Wise, wise words!

Jill said...

Jeanne,
How wonderful! I was so happy to read that you did a service of blessing for BlondeChick too. I've been thinking a lot about liturgy and children lately. Eden is so young, but we want her to grow up with a love of it too... as evidenced by the blessing service we had in the hospital! We've also started talking about infant baptism... do it or not :).

I was also perusing your labels today and came across the post where you met that prophet at a pool party on the way to the bathroom.

http://atahenspace.blogspot.com/2006/07/met-prophet.html

Have any of those prophecies come to pass?

At A Hen's Pace said...

Jill--

Yes! In our family at least two that I remember. I should look back at the "transcription" that was made to see everything that he said, and it would be interesting to check with the others who were there.

The main thing, though was for me he saw "a bigger mansion," which has come to pass with our move...2600 sq. ft. isn't a mansion by many standards, but it seems like one to us! And for B17 he saw greater self-confidence, better grades and a "big change...in your brain...in the way you think..." around his 17th birthday--which ended up being about when he started on meds which really did seem to change the way he thinks. He is calmer and doing better in school too.

The "many friends" part hasn't come true yet, though. :( But it is very interesting, isn't it?

~Jeanne

Jill said...

How cool! Did you ever figure out where this guy came from? Was he a friend of a friend?