the teen age

Apparently, teens remind people of lollipops?
We listen to a Christian radio station whenever we're out and about or listening to Adventures in Odyssey to curb boredom. Almost 50% of the time, during the afternoon, they have a "special" for those frantic parents. Not the ones raising up kids, or coping with missing their all grown up children, or wondering just general parent like stuff - but specifically for those parents.

You know those parents. They have monster locked in a bedroom upstairs, who occasionally graces the dinner table with its existence. The parents are dying of repeated insanity after asking their so-said monster to pick up the clothes on the floor that haven't been washed in centuries, or to make up the remains of what looked like a bed.

On that radio show, parent after parent calls in and asks how to deal with Johnny - who used to be so good until he turned thirteen. The host calms the parent's fears and replies that it's okay and natural for Johnny to go through this "stage". It's just like the stage toddlers go through when they have to be close to mom 24/7. That's the month when ear plugs are a mandatory accessory to survive.

So, I'm fifteen. It is expected of me not to dress warmly outside, to not be able to hold a conversation for an adult, not to care about anyone other than my friends, avoid talking to my parents, failing to obey my parents, not to get along with my siblings, dress in the latest scandalizing fashion, talk with a mumble and colorful language, watch TV, text 24/7, and not pay attention when someone corrects me. When people think "teenager" they think of someone working at a typical store, with pierced noses, bored facial expressions, and sloppy handwriting. A teenage girl is expected to be obsessed with guys, Twilight, fashion, beauty, partying and dating.

Not only do adults expect that coming from us ragamuffins, but so do our peers. You know those awkward conversations when somebody asks you what famous actor you want to marry? You love your siblings? Or when they show you their pinterest board of "handsome" guys or ask you if you like Peeta or Gale better?  ---- a w k w a r d (side note: my answer to the Peeta and Gale question is that they're made up characters, both ridiculous, and I certainly don't have time to waste puzzling over a question when the answer doesn't really matter)

If you happen to be in the "teen age", but are striving to go against the flow and come across an adult with morbid expectations, things can get awkward. Their definition of a teenager is like this (come on all you geometry geeks!): If a person is a teenager, then they're rebellious. If Bethany is a teenager, she's rebellious.

Have you ever looked in the "teen" section in your library? Or the teen section in a Christian bookstore? How about the teen section self-help? It's either all vampires, murder mysteries, cheap romance novels, everyone blows up sagas, getting along with your oppressive parents and annoying siblings, how to deal with crushes, the inner you...

So I've got to admit. In the "teen" years, a lot of things change. Your littlest pets are given away and now you actually care about brushing your hair! There's enormous amount of peer pressure, so many young adults feel like they're worthless, ugly, demented - you name it. So you have to go along with the fads. You have to shock your parents and gloat in the glory of rebellious victory and trample over those annoying siblings. You have to glory in your grandparents utter disbelief about the number of piercings you managed to plug into your ear. You have to love junk food, movies, dirty music, and pants-almost-ready-to-fall-off. That's just what teen years are for.

Occasionally, I'll see the tail-end of beer commercials. As a general rule of thumb, we don't watch ahem beer commercials. At any rate, it's plastered all over near the soda section in Wal Mart. But for one of the brands, the logo is "high life". Meaning that getting drunk and doing all that lovely stuff is admirable. Fun. Our teenager years are our "high life". We can get away with everything because we're expected to be rebellious and make stupid decisions. And maybe when we're fifty-one we'll settle down and become sober. But the "high life" means ignoring consequences and just focusing on the now. Just live it.

We've got an alarming decision to make as teens.

1) Live the high life

2) Grow up

By taking the mindset of setting goals, using your "teen" years of freedom to your advantage (preparing for life), I don't think you'll regret ignoring the high life.

And I know that most of you reading this are probably the "good" teens. But still, do you live a good "high life" by caring about immature things, goofing off 24/7 with your friends, talking back to parents (and siblings), aimlessly surfing the internet in the afternoon? Do people generally distrust you because of past experiences they've had of your sometimes irresponsibility?

Your thoughts?


  1. Teens (especially Christian ones) have such low expectations these days. Sure, we have lots of energy and these years are our "high life". If we're Christians, our "high life" and energy and youth spent on serving Christ and others. Why not fully let Christ take over now when you still have lots of extra time on your hands than in ten years when you're a parent and working a full time job? anyway. good post.

  2. You DON'T like Peeta over Gale?

    Grow up, girl!


    Now that I'm an Independent College Woman amongst a sea of Independent People who just a few months ago were those teens, I see how important it is to get priorities and passions straight. There's such a need for grace for the teen years, because conflicts and confusions and corruptions inevitably happen. If they're not addressed in the teen years, they intensify post-high school -- except now there are no parents or teachers. I so wish teens themselves -- especially the Good Teens -- would step up to the plate, admit their weaknesses and run to Christ to figure out these problems and gain a solid foundation. And I wish these teens blessed with Christ's help would reach out to those still hurting and rebelling and struggling through the High Life.

  3. Great post, as always, Bethany!

    This is a sore subject to the world in general. I never struggled with becoming a 'teenager'. I never had mood swings, or fights with parents (or anyone, for that matter). I didn't feel pressure to conform (well, I take that back, I felt it, but it didn't bother me), I never desired to do anything considered wild and crazy, and I was never obsessed with boys or movies.

    That being said, when I got older, and God brought girls into my life that struggled in these areas, honestly at first my mental reaction was something along the lines of 'Really!? Grow up!' Thankfully, the Lord guarded my lips, and none of those sentiments ever made it out. I didn't/don't feel 'holier than thou' because of my experiences in my teenage years, rather I am all to aware of my failings and struggles in other areas. Believe me, if I aired that laundry list..... Anyway, I had never spent any kind of time with girls that struggled in these areas until the last few years. God used these girls, with their problems to teach me something beautiful. I was guilty of the tendency previously of brushing off the 'typical' teenage problems as absurd, trivial matters. Instead I learned that these issues are really areas of struggle for some girls and my heart attitude (while not expressed publicly) were not God honoring nor were they compassionate to my fellow sisters in Christ. Through the years, God has shown me how to apply the wisdom I've gained from my personal struggles and temptations to these girl's situations even though at first glance they seem to have nothing in common. The Lord has been teaching me how to show grace to girls I (naturally) would laugh at and brush off. He has taught be compassion in areas I had no idea I was lacking.

    God is so good to teach us as we strive to reach out and love on others. I just need to remember that when I'm tempted to get frustrated with other people's seemingly trivial problems. They're not trivial!

    An afterthought (Going in an entirely different direction here) I have become convinced that I should treat all teens with respect and like an adult. No matter what their behavior is like, when I treat even rowdy, giggly teenagers with respect and honor, time and time again I see them rise to the occasion. Not every time, mind you, but I believe it is a way to show Christ's love and kindness. After all, He sees us in OUR filth and still loves us! Thanks for sharing

  4. The teenage years are prob'ly the most confusing stage in a persons life. We're caught between childhood and adulthood. We like to think that we are adults, but in reality we're just kids trying act independant. Instead of going to God in our confusion, we try solving things ourselves, which only results in more confusion. I'm a hard learner.:D

    Thanks for this post. It was long overdue!

  5. Hello there, I am Brooklyn! I happened to stumble across your blog and I absolutely love it! Very true post. Your words are so inspiring. Let me give you some advice. And that is too never stop writing. Keep the inspirtation going!

    P.S. New follower! :)


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Maira Gall