And then God’s gift: in the rather awkward packaging of the adolescent God brings into our lives a challenge to grow, testing our love, chastening our hope, pushing our faith to the edge of the abyss.
Stop right there! Yes, yes, pushing our faith to the edge of the abyss. So how in the world is that a gift?
What parent of teenagers hasn’t wondered, “Who has snatched my child into their saucer and replaced her with a alien in a human suit who doesn’t know how to act like the human I thought I was raising?”
A gift of an alien in the house? Well, there’s a humor blog specifically for moms experiencing this–it’s dedicated to this experience of having a teenage-alien in the house. It’s called “My Teen, The Alien” and written by two moms, Lynn Armitage and Maria Bailey. Here’s a quote from their greeting page:
Do you ever feel like someone came into your home overnight, snatched the joyful child you gave birth to and raised effortlessly (for the most part) for about 14 years, and then left this unrecognizable creature in her place? She’s moody, sassy and standoffish one minute, then free-spirited, loving and affectionate the next? Lynn Armitage and Maria Bailey started this blog to wrap sympathetic arms around all you mothers of teenagers who are wondering how the heck you’re going to survive today, let alone the next four to five schizophrenic years.
But don’t let my tangent on aliens cause you to miss something very important that Peterson is saying. I truly believe God has given us people going through an incredible transformative experience right before our eyes. The biggest surprise for me is that I’m growing up, too. Peterson says, and I agree, that the most significant growing up anyone does is growing up in Christ. We continue to grow into the full measure of the stature of Christ all through our lives. We should not squander, he says, this opportunity God has given us to grow in Christ along with our teens.
I’ll close this post with a sledgehammer of Peterson’s that may just break you wide open if you are struggling parent of a teenager (or two or three):
My purpose is to block any approach that reduces adolescence to a problem to be solved and insist that it is an experience to be entered into by the middle-aged as well as by the young as a means for growing up. But there is this difference: what the young are forced to go through by virtue of their biology, the middle-aged willingly embrace by virtue of their faith (or willingly refuse in their unbelief). And the “growing up” of parents is not to a mark on a measuring rod but to the “stature of the fulness of Christ.”