God Created Teenagers As…

Today, with an outstanding group of parents and mentors, we had the first class of Talking To Your Teenager About Sex at Church of the Open Door. We began the conversations of talking about sexuality. I couldn’t have been more thrilled by all the faces and rich dialogue that defined our time together today. I can hardly wait for next Sunday!

If you weren’t able to join us today, here’s a quick glimpse of what we talked about:

We began this four week series with this tension filled statement… God created teenagers as sexual and spiritual beings. 

Yikes! Can we say those things in the same sentence?!

Let’s think about it for a minute. It’s easy to recognize teenagers as sexual beings – right? I mean, honestly, no one is questioning the reality of all those raging hormones in this sex-saturated world, but how is their spirituality a part of this?

Our teenagers’ sexual portfolio will travel with them throughout life. As parents our job is not to define this, but rather to equip them with language about sex, to empower them with the truth about what healthy sexuality looks like and, above all else, give them the assurance that they are not alone. Never ever. We are here to support them.

So, last year my daughter introduced me to Mumford and Sons music and well…I fell in love with it (as did most of the country, actually). But during today’s conversation I was reminded of this great music video someone did of their song, Awake My Soul. The song is about the soul returning to hear the Creator.

As parents, it’s so good to notice what arises in us when talking about sexuality with our teens. What fears, resignation, anger, excitement, worries might we transfer to the topic with our teens?

What do we want them to be aware of? What do we want them to awaken to?

Our Creator means for us to experience our sexuality as good. Our sexual drive is something created with a purpose and with intention, but it also has an incredible power to create great havoc in our lives.

If we are going to invite and engage in this conversation with our teens, we must remember that we too, as parents, are spiritual and sexual beings created by the hand of God and this is “…good, very good!”

Do WE remember who we are?

Maybe we have fallen asleep to this truth about our own spirituality and sexuality. Maybe we forgot this or perhaps this is the first time ever hearing this truth. Wherever you might find yourself, I want to encourage you.

You have something to share with your teen. And it matters that you engage intentionally.

What are we willing to invite our teens into?

Are we willing to risk seeing ourselves as made in the image of God in order to invite our teens to see this as well.

I look forward to the next class together, but I hope, no I pray that this week your thinking will be dislodged, interrupted and (might I say) disturbed by the ways in which we have closed our eyes to the deep truth that our sexuality is designed by God. God designed it with the intention for us to experience the fullness of God’s love.

What if we engage with this love that is deeper than we could ever imagine and strong enough to hold every ounce of our sexuality and spirituality, without shame?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpcBjt8Wqg8?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

~ b.

ps Please feel free to post any questions, thoughts or comments from the class today. I sure would love to hear them!

Wrestling to Win: Fathers & Sons

I once knew this guy. He was deceptively strong in his upper body because polio in his twenties had rendered his legs very weak, so his arms had to carry his body. He loved all things swimming, wrestling and playing. In fact, when I think back on this really strong old guy, I believe play was something that defined how he engaged with the world.

Challenging teen boys to an arm wrestle was one of his many rituals of play. One guy in particular, a football line backer with meaty muscles, loved to meet him arm to arm. With jaws locked in determination their matches would draw sweat from both brows and cause ripples to appear as the veins strained to win.

For years these two men – one the deceptively strong old guy, the other the young vigorous stud – would meet in a show down of strength.

The goal? The young man’s goal — to beat the old guy. The old man’s goal — to beat the young guy.

Who normally won?

The old guy.

But then one day came when the old guy knew he was on the verge of not being able to win anymore. This young stud’s strength was about to surpass his very old strength.

A battle inside the old man began…

“I want to go out the victor!”

“We are done, I will not wrestle with him anymore, then I will not have to suffer defeat!”

What do Dads do with the competitive nature to win? When it shows up between them and their very own sons?

The surges of testosterone in teenage boys is like a tsunami and guess what…it’s building muscles. As men age, their testosterone levels are dropping (sad, but true) and you, as men are becoming the “old guys” and will not always be the strongest.

Younger boys measure their strength against older men in order to validate their own strength.

The date was set for another match and I remember the old guy saying, “It’s time for him to know he can win. It’s my time to choose to let go.”

What is it like to walk towards something that you know is going to happen? Can you see it as good when everyone else would see it as loss? By the way, here’s a great sermon I heard recently about this guy Jesus who modeled this for us.

As men, do you realize that you have something powerful to pass onto teen boys about how they live with their strength?

They wrestled, the sweat dripped, the heat rose, the fight was on and the tensions held…

Later, as I happened upon an intimate moment of an arm stretched around young shoulders, I heard words confirming a strength and its alluring powers, the fight to be a winner and I heard this question:

“Did you let me win?”

“No, your strength has now matched mine…you beat me.”

This old guy could celebrate who he was, who this teenage boy was and see something beyond this arm wrestling battle.

What is the risk of acknowledging another’s strength?

Dads, there is something powerful in how you acknowledge strength in your sons and help them to navigate the tempting draw towards “winning at all costs.” I believe there is an invitation there and you can model strength and purpose to your young men.

Can we recognize and teach young men how to use their “strength” while also wrestling to honor where they as sons might even surpass Dad in strength, knowledge, ability….??

Oh the tension I feel in even writing this!

How do we honor the younger generation and the strengths they bring? How do we, the older generation, actually stay engaged and not be overbearing?

I want to talk about this and so much more! Have you heard about the upcoming free class at Church of the Open Door? There is no registration, but I’d sure love to know if your coming so drop me a line.

Oh and ps, that really strong, old guy — that’s my Daddy.

~ b.

Hope From the Hunger Games?

I have recently been caught in the sweeping tide of reading the Hunger Games series. Have you?

And yes, opening weekend, I was one of the many who added my money to the millions of dollars that made this movie one of the best box office openers.

Our heroine, the fabulous Katniss, invites us into a story told from her perspective. She is caught in survival mode, forced to fight for her life. And in the midst she becomes a symbol of HOPE to others.

You remember, President Snow, her main adversary; he is a man defined by greed and control. He saw this teenage girl as a huge threat. While he is seriously eerie, to say the least, and very well played by Donald Sutherland, I found myself thinking throughout the movie, hope always has the power to disrupt evil.

I was also distracted because I was contemplating about our teenagers. I was noticing how I, as an adult, want so desperately to foster HOPE in teens and in parents–especially in the area of sexuality.

So how exactly does one foster hope? And about sexuality? And what would it look like for parents to have HOPE for our children? Even though we might be scared to death for them and what they are facing…??

Katniss knew hunger for food and for freedom, because she had experienced the absence of something. But what do our teens hunger for? What is there an absence of in their lives?

So, in the past few weeks, I have been more intentionally listening and observing teenagers around me at:

malls…

coffee shops…

theaters…

churches…

The funny thing is, I keep observing the same thing in all of these places…adults steer clear of teenagers. Oh we adults notice them alright, but we do not actively engage with them.

In fact, at the local coffee shop where I was sitting one afternoon last week, adults were making a point of avoiding these loud, texting, talkative teens as they jockeyed for tables that were on the opposite side of the shop from them.

But, I decided to try something different. I made a point of striking up a conversation with Miss red-and-purple-hair-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo and enough metal in her earlobes to crash a microwave.

Do you know what happened? We made a connection. Why? Because we actually had quite a lot in common. We both write, have blue eyes, enjoy Mumford and Sons, hate condiments and love sunsets.

See??

While I may never see her again, I did see her in these few moments of chatting together and I dared to step over the imaginary line of our generations — and something special happened.

Did I foster hope for another in that moment?

Well, I actually have no idea. But I know I felt something stir in me, reminding me of when I was a her age. I was so hungry for adults to take me seriously; to see that I had something to offer.

This returned me to a scene in Hunger Games where President Snow, from within his dark and corruptive viewpoint can clearly see what kind of HOPE this teenager offers. He says, “Hope is a dangerous thing, like a flame, it can catch others and create fire.”

Katniss had something to offer. A kind of hope that had the power to disrupt evil.

Enough said. Wouldn’t want to have to do any spolier alerts here. So anyway…

Let’s start wondering together. Let’s start hoping together for our teens, especially in the area of sexuality. I wonder what could happen…

Don’t you?

~ b.

Even Easter Points Back To The Garden

If you know anything about me, you know I love the Garden.

Not the one in my backyard, that resembles a weed patch…my passion rests within the Garden that God created and named as Eden. Throughout my years of teaching and writing I am always returning to the Garden. But recently I have been returning to it in a new way—through the Crucifixion.

It’s been this journey of writing and blogging about parenting and teenagers that has drawn me back this time to THE place that holds our deepest identity. The Garden is where the Creator crafted us to bear an image that we are told directly reflects and is rooted in God.

Sure, the Garden is part of our creation and that’s wonderful, but what about our pain? The places that we experience darkness, fear or stress in relation to parenting our teenagers? Does the garden hold any significance for that?

The night before Jesus died, he gathered with friends, ate a great meal, washed people’s feet, sipped his last wine and then did something that seems significant–he went to the garden.

Can’t you just imagine it? Jesus and his friends entering this place that holds life, yet is covered by the deep encompassing darkness of night. He did not go alone to this place, but instead he invited a few to come with him and asks them to “keep watch”.

Do you have those kind of friends? The ones who will enter dark places with you?

Jesus returns to this place where Life began and cries out to the point of sweating blood. Science confirms that this physical reaction can occur when the body feels deep stress. And somehow, this comforts me. Why? Because the very real physical reaction Jesus’ body is having makes him seem close, more real, and more relevant in relating to the messiness of pain.

Jesus was no stranger to pain. And neither are we. Some of the emails I’ve received this month relating to teens reveal:

  • a father wrestling for hope, while a son’s sexual actions are threatening the family financially…
  • a mother who has not heard from her daughter in weeks…
  • a pregnant teenager scared to come home…
  • parents torn apart by a son’s one night stand that will leave permanent physical scars…

The Garden is a place that holds life, but also it’s a place where we pour forth our greatest pains, fears, stresses  and ask God to meet us there, beg God to take this away. I would love to “let this cup pass” and drink from another. But, Jesus models something beautiful that I believe is at the core of what the Garden holds for us when we dare to return, to God, especially to the darkness:

The Garden holds DELIGHT.

Yes, Eden in Hebrew means delight. I don’t mean the kind where you feel giddy and want to frolic in the tulips. No, no, not that kind. Instead the kind of delight that’s deep within the core of who God is. The God who will not leave you and will not forsake you — no matter how deep the darkness is that you walk through.

So to you, my fellow parents, who might be facing some of what may seem like the darkness of night in parenting, you are not alone…

I invite you to return to the Garden, gather the sacred friends that will go with you (even if they do fall asleep for awhile), because you are not alone…

Jesus showed us the way to the cross, but it involved returning first to the Garden, the place where our deepest identity began and our image was made–by the One who will walk with us…

always.

always.

always.

~b.

I Just Want My Kids To Like Me (Sigh.)

I want my kids to like me.

Yep, I said it.

But, truth be told, I really want everyone to like me.

Unfortunately, life has taught me that this state of “likability” is subject to random definitions and sudden changes that have actually have very little to do with real growth.

When my girls were young, I remember moments, frozen in time, where I wanted someone else to jump up and be the parent–anyone but me. I really wanted to be their friend. Someone they wanted to hangout, laugh and confide in. I did not want to be that parent:

“But why can’t I ________ insert any of the following: (go, buy the shoes, stay out till, etc.)

“Because I said so…”

Sometimes I really didn’t have a good reason that would stand up to the scrutiny of my negotiating teenager. What can I say? My brain was older and not processing at the speed of light that theirs was.

Call it intuition, call it a sixth sense…

Sometimes my “no” and sometimes my “yes” was from a place within that told me “this” (whatever it might have been) was a good choice. Often as parents we can think–IF we cannot explain it well, then we cannot justify standing firm.

Right?

Wrong!

Without sounding too overdramatic, I truly believe that our teenagers are in a serious fight for their lives. They are laying the foundations of how they think about life, love, friends, identity, etc.

AND

They need input. And let’s face it, this input isn’t always received with enthusiasm, open arms, or the ideal interaction we’ve dream of: “Wow! Thanks Mom, thanks Dad for being willing to tell me these things! You guys are just the best! I really appreciate it!!”

Instead, at least for me, I often got this: “Your ruining my life, your giving me no choice but to rebel!”

What is that struggle within that causes us to see things so “black and white”, “for or against?”

I’ve been reading Paula D’Arcy’s, Seeking With All My Heart. these past few weeks. She writes about how pain can “break us open” causing us to see more clearly. “When love moves, it sometimes destroys. But for our sake. Anything in its path, anything that is not Love.”

As parents, we sacrifice financially, emotionally and physically to prevent our children from experiencing pain.

Here’s a thought: what if pain is a part of how we love them? The pain of needing to stand firm in places we would really rather be the buddy, the liked one…

My cautions for us as parents:

  • Notice the motivations of your “yes” and your “no.”
  • Recognize that certainty of being liked, avoiding the wrath of what “no” can bring, cannot be our motivating factor
  • Know that hard conversations do not define an unwillingness to be “friends” with your teenager. In fact, “friends” that refuse to have hard conversations are rarely in it for the long haul called life…

Love is an action, and it risks being misunderstood. Sometimes it does not make sense until later…much later. Holy Week – case in point, Jesus’ torturous walk with a gruesome cross, yet he knew that his Love would destroy things we could not see.

While I like being friends with my now grown daughters, truth be told I continue to be invited to this line of love that presses me into the place of choosing: am I willing to destroy, “anything that is not Love” that might be between us?

~ b.

Jesus as Man, But First as Teenager

Most days I find something that I can treasure about life, but this week is especially significant for me and part of that is because of my faith. I don’t mean the faith that actively engages in the mystery of trust, but rather the practical side of a man being human and walking among humanity–Jesus.

You know what I find particularly fascinating? In order for Jesus to become a man, Jesus had to first be a teenager.

Did they call them “teenagers” a couple thousand years ago? Hmmm…someone google-that and let me know, ok? Thanks.

All this blogging, thinking and teaching about teenagers while approaching Holy Week has me thinking about young Jesus, left on his own, in a strange village, his parents returning home, only to discover him missing after two days…

Are you familiar with this story?

Being a parent is hard work and the training for it is literally “on the job” — there are no pause buttons. There are no “do overs” regardless of how many children you have, which can be quite frustrating at times. Each child we have is a unique expression of God’s image and each has something to teach us.

So how did these parents forget their child, the son of God, the one about whom dreams had warned of soldiers and certain death?!?

Did God forget them as parents now, in these critical teenage years?

When we look at Mary and Joseph’s parenting and time they lived in, two things seem to stand out:

  • they lived in community

AND

  • they trusted their son.

You might be asking, so what does this have to do with Holy Week?? Nothing specifically in regards to that final week, but I believe that part of how Jesus was raised empowered him in these final days to walk boldly, even into certain death.

See, from an early age Mary and Joseph taught Jesus to know and trust living in community. Do our kids know the importance of others in their lives? Are we modeling community in how we live and engage with others in life’s struggles? Do we ask for help?

Which triggers a second noteworthy point–they trusted their son.

I remember many hard conversations when my daughters were teenagers about choices being made and also my choice–will I trust my child? What is good within, in spite of what I know to be the risks?

This does not mean throw in the towel, no rules, free for all! Instead, it’s a risk knowing that they have to learn to make decisions. I’ll tell you right now that some will be good, and other choices will require us to return to find them.

Joseph and Mary recognized Jesus was missing and returned to find him. I kind of wonder what that conversation was like between mom and dad on the return trip. After all it was the Son of God that was missing!

They returned and they found him in the temple, having a blast, doing what he was created to do — coming to and being amongst the people.

I wonder, did they see his future in those moments? Could they feel the tension of what was yet to come for this young man?

Maybe so. And all the more reason why they needed to bring him home, to continue nurturing and training him towards being a man. Because one day he would walk a road where all of humanity would need to trust that he did indeed, see them.

May you notice Holy Week as an invitation to walk in the reality of God with us…

especially when parenting teenagers.

~ b.

Teens Want to Learn About Sexuality – Really!

This past week, I stood in a church, in front of 250 teenagers and their mentors. And can you guess what I did? We talked about sexuality. I mean, come on! Can you use words like erection and orgasms in such a setting??

Well, I did. And guess what. So did they!

We began the conversation about these three main topics:

  • God created sex…
  • Sex is good…
  • Gender differences matter…

These topics are loaded and charged with pre-conceived thoughts and assumptions–especially when one is in church. But these teenagers risked having discussions with their mentors about sex. Not only that, but they also wrote down real questions and bravely dropped them in a white bucket.

During this lag time between writing their questions and my retrieving them from the bucket, I was hit by a wave of emotion I could not define. In fact, at one point I felt compelled to hug this tall kid that shuffled up, threw in a question, and almost challenged me not to answer it thinking his question was way too far out there.

I did restrain myself, at least in the hugging.

Two days later, sitting cozy in my favorite chair, cradling a cup of tea and my journal I finally found the name for the emotion I felt that night. And, do you know what? It took my breath away. I was beyond humbled by their raw, open vulnerability.

Is God really interested in how many guys I have been with?

Can God make my pain go away?

These questions were their words, their honest, honest, honest words. This was their engaging, forming thoughts and risking actually saying these questions out loud. And…they were trusting me.

 Am I crazy because I think about boys all the time?

Can masturbation hurt me?

As I stood there with these questions, I realized, dear parents, that I was holding something that is a part of your teenager, the one that you have loved, nurtured and continue to daily pursue. Parents, you may never get these questions and see this vulnerability of your teenager in this way — and this truly humbles me.

Why did God give us these hormones and not want us to act on them?

Does God know what is going on with the Internet? TV?? Pornography?!?

Twenty-five minutes and the Q&A was over. I desperately wanted to turn the time back because there were so many questions I hadn’t had a chance to answer yet! Yet, I had to remind myself that this is a process and there will always be more…

From my night with these amazing teens and mentors, I believe only more deeply, that teens really do desire to have answers and be equipped with knowledge about their sexuality. Perhaps we’ve been under estimating their ability and willingness to learn about sex.

What if we, as the adults in their lives, learn how to make space to help them find the words that are swirling.

I have great hope for these teenagers and I believe they can learn to find truth, even in the world that we think is overwhelming.

After all…

  • God did create sex, on purpose
  • Sex is really good and super healthy for the body, when the right boundaries are in place
  • Gender differences really do matter and can offer us great insight

Thanks to the teens and mentors in the Next Generation program at Open Door. I loved talking with you and being amongst you. Maybe we should talk again sometime…

 

When Our Little Boys Become Men

A couple years ago, a good friend of mine told me a story about that illustrates the significant and special relationship between a mother and her son.

It’s a story of a tribe located in the Ivory Coast. This tribe places such value and significance on the threshold of when young boys become men, that there is an intense dramatic scene that actually takes place for every boy.

I suppose a newspaper headline might describe this dramatic moment as something like this: Son Ripped From Mother’s Arms By Hatch Bearing Father, Same As Last Year.

No seriously. Ok,here’s what happens: the young boy is at home working side-by-side his mother, just as he has for his entire life up to this very point. This boy’s everyday rhythm has been working with his mother as they together provide and prepare all the basic needs that will generate life.

Then, when the boy is old enough and the time is right…the moment comes. Suddenly, the mother sees the village men storming into her family’s hut, yanking her son from away from her (the village men typically carry some sort of weapon). She shrieks and wails, screaming at the men to not “take her son from her breast”. She flails and scrambles to hold onto her son. Clawing and reaching hands leave scratches on the boy’s arms as a symbol on his skin of her earnest love.

Ultimately they are separated…

The mother returns to work. The men take the boy away. It’s time for that young boy to be trained and initiated into manhood.

Whoa. Dramatic, right?

What do you think? Are the sons victims? Are the mothers the victims??

OR

Is there something much deeper going on here?

Must we as mothers release our little baby boys in order for them to fully become men?

Now, I cannot comment on this first hand, because it’s true, I have never born a son. But, what I do know is, the biology of a woman releasing a child is difficult. It is.  Is there something significant in the specific mother-son relationship that needs to be released?

As my friend and I discussed the depth and meaning of this custom, she pointed out that the village depends on the men being trained to protect and provide food for the tribe. Up to this point, the boys are held at home to be nurtured and taught the values and rhythms of life. They are tutored in relationships, village politics and leadership…by who? By their mothers. They do this because they see the importance of the young boys being able to see and experience, first hand the importance of ALL that they will someday be protecting.

What does it look like to let a boy experience this departure from boyhood and the entering into manhood?

How does a mother release her son?

Now, just the clarify, I am not suggesting that we all need this ritual in our cities and towns. But in studying the teenage brain, I continue to see the significance of the transitions for boys during the teenage years that is different, psychologically, from girls transitions.

The testosterone that is released in a woman’s system through the pregnancy with a son is miraculous. The fetus’ hormone levels are literally foreign to the woman’s body–large levels of testosterone are coursing through her body.  She is biologically experiencing something different than her own cellular structure. Not only is she experiencing it, but a life is being formed deep within her womb and the fetus with it’s elevation of testosterone is fighting for a place to grow.

A mother’s bond with their son in a unique experience and literally lays the foundation for a boy’s emotional health. The mother, is literally THE source of life and is the first experience that little baby boy will know of love. No wonder grown men so often return to their mommas in their moments of greatest triumph and excitement! Give a grown man in professional athletics a moment on camera and chances are you’ll hear him shout a, “Hi mom!” or “Love you mom!”

So how do mothers let go of a love so special and tender like this one? How can we as moms release that kind of attention and make space to empower our sons to become men?

This ripping apart, pulling away is something that is hard to define and I am sure even harder to do, yet it is so vital to the health of a man and his capacity to love well.

So moms, what does it look like to release your sons in our own culture? Can you see the value of loving them well and releasing them to be men?

What might that look like? Wouldn’t it be great to start a dialogue about these important aspects of parenting our teens well?

Join me! Post a comment, share a thought. I would love to hear from you.

~b

Isn’t She Lovely…

Raise your hand if you were alive in 1976.

(Ok, so I’m for sure waving both).

Even if you weren’t around to remember the 70s, chances are, whatever you age, you know the song, Isn’t She Lovely, by the truly talented and loved Stevie Wonder. Mr. Wonder wrote this endearing song celebrating the birth of his baby girl, Aisha.

As you begin to recall the melody, can’t you just hear the intensity of a father’s love for his little girl, “I can’t believe what God has done, through us given life to one…”

Have you ever had the chance to witness a new father lay eyes on his sweet baby girl? I have. Twice, actually.

I remember the moment my husband saw each of our daughters for the first time, something intimate and precious happened. The love in his eyes overflowed as his arms clasped his girls in a way that I had never experienced. There was a part of his love that was meant only for them, something I would not touch, but forever would be touched by. Something was triggered deep inside him and he…was…in…love.

When little girls receive this first form of male love, it helps to craft their identity. It lays a foundation for how they can see love and will be able to receive love as they grow.

As girls enter their teenage years, their bodies crave physical touch much like when they were infants. Hungry for affirmation, teen girls are especially vulnerable as volatile hormones canoften cause them to feel tossed around like a beach ball in the open ocean. One minute they want to snuggle on a lap, the other, they do not even want you in the same room. We as parents need to understand that much of this is a result of biology because hormones are sweeping in and through their bodies.

Teen girls are often internally asking questions like, “Where do I fit?”, “Who finds me attractive?”, “Where do I discover more of who I am?”

But guess what, Dad’s you too can feel confused when you look at your beautiful teen girl. When she comes bouncing down the stairs and stands in the kitchen making morning toast, you stare at her. You blink, blink again, then rub your eyes, but you can’t shake it. This developing young woman, who is also your daughter, freakishly reminds you of your wife (15 years earlier)! And you might even find her attractive. Then you know, absolutely that you are crazy – how can I be attracted to my own daughter?! Yikes!!

But I’m here to tell you, you are not crazy. The biology standing in front of you in the kitchen is reminding you of the interwoven beauty of husband and wife that together created this daughter of yours. Yes, she is lovely, after all, she was “…made from love.” Teen girls need their dads, especially during these years, to remind them that they are oh-so-very “lovely.”

Dads, your daughter’s beauty is there. It’s real. And while it might feel corny or awkward, your daughter might just need to hear you tell her how lovely she is again and again and again during these teenage years…

Isn’t she pretty?

Truly the angel’s best, man I’m so happy,

we have been heaven blessed.

I can’t believe what God has done,

through us given life to one.

But isn’t she lovely, made from love.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp0Oh6Ckh1M]

Purity From the Fire

A couple of years ago, I found myself  wandering through the streets of a small English village. I happened upon a silversmith shop and did something I’d never done before. I stood shoulder to shoulder with a Master silversmith.

This generationally owned family business not only crafted fine silver, but also maintained and repaired pieces that bore their signature emblem from previous…get this…centuries.

This Master, carefully guided a silver handle from a cream pitcher (by the way…his great-grandfather had crafted it originally) in and out of the fire. He invited me to look into the fire for the flame’s bluish hue that rendered the silver piece to be the most pliable for restoring.

The heat, metals, rods, aprons and gnarled hands all told a story about how silver was purified within the intensity of the fire and then could be molded.

All this started me thinking, what does it mean when we tell our teenagers to “keep their purity”?

The dictionary tells us simply that pure means: “unmixed without any other matter, free from what weakens or pollutes…”

It could be great if a pledge, a promise or a ring could maintain this idea of “purity”, but statistics show how ineffective these symbols are in the “heat of battle,” especially in evangelical circles where guilt and shame cripple teenagers to be even more ill-equipped and unprepared.

Fire = hormones trumping logical control of their vulnerable bodies. Guilt can become their clothing of choice that can make our teens hide from us as parents while turning from the truth of who they are.

Wait a second. This sounds very familiar…

Take the first man and woman, hanging out in the garden. Remember? God gave them great freedom, yet also God gave them boundaries—to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Why?

Because God knew what their eyes would be open to. God knew that this knowledge would “weaken and pollute” them to turn away from their deepest identity…”made in the image of God.”

As I saw first hand from the Master silversmith, fire is where purification takes place. So how do we allow the fire of purification, without our children ending up with third degree sexual trauma burns? And I mean, without locking them up until they are 35 years old…

Vulnerability — yes, perhaps theirs. But first — first — I mean our vulnerability. Our vulnerability as parents.

  • Can we dare to be honest that we to struggle with purity in our own journey?
  • Can we seek to stay engaged with our children as they ask honest questions?
  • Dare we ask risky questions about what they are thinking? Do we really want to know?
  • How might we equip them with for noticing the fire?
  • How girls/boys confuse them—and take their breath away?

Might the truth of who they are and what they are capable of, be a key that God has granted us to use to remind and return these teenagers to a deeper truth…?

They do bear the image of God.
Their sexual drive is a gift—not a curse.
The fire is real—it can either burn them or mold them.
The deeper truth is—that as your parent, I will not turn away—instead I will come towards you and choose to walk with you.

What if we believe that purity is more than just not doing something? What if we believe purity is a continual process of refining, transforming, becoming…

~ b.