I Was Young ... But I Don't Remember It

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One of the comic strips I have faithfully read for most of my life is the strip “Hi and Lois”. Hi (which is short for Hiram) and Lois Flagston, are typical middle-class American suburbanites. Lois is a realtor. They have four children: Chip, the teenager, twins Dot and Ditto, and Trixie who is a toddler.

    • A "Hi and Lois" cartoon shows Hi waving his arms in frustration and asking his son, "Chip! Why are you watching this JUNK!" Without looking up from TV, Chip replies, "This is better junk than all the other junk." In the kitchen Hi tells his wife, Lois, "The best we can hope for is that our kids can tell the good junk from the bad junk!"

In today's society, I think that's the prayer of many a parent who have a teenager living in the home.


            1. throughout most of human history, adolescence (the time between childhood and adulthood) was only a few years in length
                1. in the modern era, adolescence has become an extended period of time and that posses a series of challenges for our young people
            2. let me share the five primary challenges facing our young people ...


            1. here is one of the greatest challenges confronting today's teenager
                1. their bodies are rapidly changing
                2. their hormones, which have been relatively quiet for eleven or twelve years, have suddenly said, "It's party time!"
            2. it is a time of rapid physical and emotional change that is natural and wonderful
                1. it can also be confusing, frustrating, bewildering and sometimes embarrassing
                    1. who can forget that morning you woke up and found that first big "zit" right in the middle of your forehead that made you feel like a Cyclopes?
                2. puberty can dramatically intensify emotions
                    1. adolescents suddenly develop the capacity to feel sadder, more euphoric, more anxious, and angrier, and also to experience these more intense affective states for longer periods of time
                    2. the problem, of course, is that during adolescence, emotional intensity is enhanced but the ability to control those emotions has not yet developed
                      • ILLUS. It’s like starting a car, but not yet knowing how to drive!
            3. puberty which arrives too early can be embarrassing
              • ILLUS. By the time I was in the sixth grade I was already six feet tall. I stuck out from my class mates like a sore thumb. I was shy and embarrassed because I felt abnormal and out of place. It didn't help when some of my friends nicknamed me after a popular mid-1960s cartoon show character—Milton the Monster.
            4. puberty which arrives too late can seem catastrophic
                1. studies have found that late-arrival of puberty for boys is especially difficult
                    1. when all their friends are starting to shave and they’re not, it’s frustrating
                    2. when all their friends are beginning to talk like Sylvester Stallone, and they’re still sounding like a Vienna Choir Boy it’s disconcerting
            5. the Church gives young people little help with the problems they are facing at this critical period because the words puberty, sex, and sexuality make us uneasy
            6. society doesn't help the situation
                1. children are reaching puberty at younger and younger ages
                2. at the same time Americans are getting married later in life
                    1. recent statistics show that the average age of men at their first marriage is 27, for women the average age is 23
                    2. this means that many youth spend a decade or more with sexually mature bodies and reproductively-activated brains prior to taking on adult status in society
                    3. no wonder you (and your child) weren't ready for this!
                3. while the Church is telling teenagers to "wait" and "just say no" society is telling them "Go ahead, everybody else is doing it" and your body is going “Uh-huh, that’s right. If it feels good, it must be right!”
                4. adolescents going through puberty into sexual maturity is definitely a challenge for today's youth


            1. adolescence is a time when teenagers are discovering who they are and what they believe
                1. which means they challenge almost everything!
            2. Eric Erikson, a development psychologist of the early 1950's wrote a book entitled Childhood and Society
                1. he says that persons go through eight psycho/social tasks which contribute to the formation of our personalities
                2. each one of these stages has a negative and a positive side to it
            3. Erikson writes that the primary psycho/social task teenagers are going through is identity verses role confusion
                1. teenagers are attempting to discover who he or she is and what their role in life is going to be
                2. virtually everything they have every learned or been taught is questioned and evaluated
                    1. when we are children we have no such identity crisis
                      • ILLUS. When Linda's nephew Mark was two and three years old you could ask him the question, "Who are you?" The reply was always, "I'm mommy’s little boy."
                    2. Mark knew exactly who he was
                    3. his identity and role was wrapped up in his relationship to mother and father
            4. the answer to the question, "Who are you?" gets tougher as you get older
                1. that question is of utmost importance to teenagers
                2. they are not just "mommy’s little boy" or "daddy’s little girl” any longer
                3. they are learning to be individuals who make choices about themselves, about others, about their goals and dreams and about the world they live in
            5. adolescents discovering who they are can be a real challenge


            1. teenagers are maturing into adulthood yet they still carry the vestiges of childhood
                1. most teenagers are convinced that their parents were born adults and don't have any idea what they are experiencing
                2. it comes out in those fateful words, "Mom, you just don't understand!"
            2. there is that natural tendency for teenagers to be chomping at the bit and to be tugging on the apron strings
                1. they want increasing freedom, but also the security of rules
            3. parents often perceive this growth toward maturity as rebelliousness
                1. the reason parents are reluctant to let go of the reigns or untie the apron strings is because parents often see the childishness in their teenagers
                2. teenagers see this reluctancy by parents to let go as their parent's attempt to overtly control and dominate their lives
            4. adolescents struggling toward maturity can be a real challenge


            1. the pressure to be like the other kids and do what your friends are doing is an enormous pressure on today's teenager
            2. this can create conflicting feelings of loyalty especially within Christian teenagers
                1. on the one hand, you've grown up being taught right from wrong based on the Scriptures
                2. on the other hand, some of the things you're asked or expected to do so that you'll "fit in" is anything but Christian
                    1. and who doesn't want to fit in?
                    2. who doesn't want to be accepted?
                      • ILLUS. I was raised by my parents to be an individual. We we encouraged to be who we were and not what everyone else thought we should be. When everyone else was wearing bell-bottomed jeans and macrame belts, I wore straight-legged jeans and skinny leather belts. When everyone else was wearing tie-died tea shirts, I was wearing button-down oxfords. When everyone else was wearing platform shoes with two-inch heals, I was wearing penny-loafers. When everyone else was letting their hair grow long, I stuck with my crewcut. And I was happy with myself, and really didn’t care that I wasn’t ‘in’ or ‘cool’. I managed to maintain that individuality until I was about 17. I finally gave in and bought the cloths and the shoes that everyone else was wearing. The only problem was that I still had a "crew cut!" (Which was very "un-cool" in those days). I’ll never forget what my best friend in High School (Charles Manson) told me. He said, “You fit in better, when you weren’t trying to fit in!”
                3. that was a huge eye-opener for me—it taught me to be me regardless of what everyone else around me was doing
            3. the desire to be like everyone else instead of being you is a real challenge


            1. James Dobson, a Christian Psychologist and Family Counselor writes that the typical fifteen year old has three basic feelings
                1. they feel ugly (whether they are or not)
                2. they feel dumb (whether they are or not)
                3. they feel unloved (whether they are or not)
            2. adolescence is a period of dramatically intensified emotions
                1. adolescents suddenly develop the capacity to feel sadder, more euphoric, more anxious, and angrier, and also to experience these more intense affective states for longer periods of time
                  • ILLUS. Every once in a while, Linda will come home from school, and I’ll ask her, “How was everything at drama club today?” Because that’s what Jr. High and High School often are!
            3. the challenge of dealing with your feelings is a challenge



    • “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” (Romans 6:12–13, NIV84)
    • “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:25–27, NIV84)
            1. your body is changing
                1. boys are turning into men
                2. girls are turning into women
            2. accept God's timetable for that change
            3. accept the challenge of being in control of your body
                1. don't let you're body control you


    • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV84)
            1. knowing beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are a child of God gives you a sense of identity
            2. it also helps you to discover what your role in life may be
                1. whatever vocation or profession you may choose, you are first and foremost a disciple of the Lord, Jesus Christ
            3. discover the gifts and talents God has given you and let those gifts and talents guide you to your life's vocation


    • “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, NIV84)
            1. realize that the reason they seem to hold too tightly to you at times is because it hurts to let go
                1. they see the dangers and pitfalls that you may be blind to in your youthful optimism
            2. take your problems to your parents—no matter how serious they may seem to be or what you imagine they might do to you
                1. 1st, they may very well have gone through the same or similar experience at your age—so they really do know what you’re going through
                2. 2nd, they are not as stupid or unaware as you suppose they are
                  • ILLUS. Like many young men before me, I discovered that as I grew older, my father, for some inexplicable reason, was getting smarter.
                3. 3rd, they may yell and scream and even cry, and you may have to face some discipline, but chances are good that they really won't kill you
            3. develop relationships with other adults in your life


    • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as livingsacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV84)
    • “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 22:24–25, NIV84)
            1. if you're going to conform to anything, conform yourself to the image of Christ


    • “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Matthew 22:37–39, NIV84)
            1. learn how to like yourself
            2. discover your strong points and work on your weak points

Con. A Prayer for Teenagers: With each new day that dawns I am growing up, O Lord. It's not too soon to start thinking of what I want to be. It's very hard, I think, to make the right decision but I pray that you will help and guide me. Show me what to do, let me share, someday, my talents where they're needed. And when you show me, give me courage to be generous enough to do what you want.

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