“Hi Dave, Jimmy is in a funk about starting school. He won’t talk to us about it. If you could give him a positive word or two it may help. Thanks again!” –A mother concerned for her son.
Have you ever experienced this with your child? You know he is hurting or something is bothering him but he won’t tell you what it is. It weighs on him, alters his moods, and changes how he treats others around him. Sometimes he doesn’t even know what the problem is. There is a disconnect.
This disconnect is really a breakdown of a connection. It is a breakdown of a relationship. The definition of relationship is: the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected. God created us with the intention of us being connected to others, to our surrounding, and to Himself–yet what happens is that this connection becomes strained or even broken.
What can potentially happen, especially with youth, is that when one connection is broken they try to build new ones. Take dating, for example, I don’t know how many times that I have had a teen in my office that has shared with me how they can tell their new boyfriend or girlfriend anything and everything. Then, when I ask if they can share the same things at home, almost every time their answer is no. Isn’t this wrong?
I ask teens what makes it hard for them to connect with Christ. Their answers vary from that He can’t be seen to I don’t know how to hear from Him. Essentially, they are saying they don’t know how to connect. They believe that He exists, died for our sins, forgave us of our sins, and at some point, will spend eternity with Him, but they don’t know how to connect with Him on earth. They stopped trying to build the connection and this habit trickles down to other relationships.
Our response, at times, has been to encourage our teens to reach out to others who can speak into their lives with Godly advice. There is nothing wrong with this–but I don’t think that it ultimately solves the problem. Teens need to have counsel outside of the home but more importantly they need to go to the ultimate source of wisdom: Christ. If teens can learn to truly have a connection with Christ, their other relationships will be that much stronger. Now I get it that it isn’t easy. Even the psalmist David, in the Bible repeatedly cried out to the Lord with feelings of being distant. Look at Psalms 13:
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalms 13:1-2
What David is asking God is why is it hard to connect with Him? Yet David doesn’t leave it there. He doesn’t give up on the relationship. Instead he fights harder for it. Look at verse 5:
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord,because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Ps. 13:5-6
David’s response is to trust that God is there and loves him. Which means if God loves him, then He also is in communion with him even if His presence isn’t felt at that moment. What this does is shifts our perspective from one that looks at what God is not doing to what God is doing. When we remind ourselves on how we found Him in our past we start seeing Him more clearly in our present situation. This is what I want kids to know: Strengthen the relationship with Christ. Don’t give up because He seems distant or hard to approach.
So this is what I tell teens:
1. Pursue God and a healthy relationship with Him. The more you spend time with Him through reading the Word and spending time in worship and prayer the more connected you will feel with Him.
2. The stronger your relationship is with Christ the better your other relationships will be.
This is what I tell parents that call me when their child is not communicating at home: I am glad that I can be a safe-place for your child but I will do my best to help them with their connection with Christ because I know that–in the end–this will only lead to greater connection at home.