Teen-to-Teen

Some teenagers were calling in to a radio talk show to voice their dissatisfaction with life. They explained why they are so defiant of authority and why they are so casual about sex, drugs, and suicide. They felt that life is not worth living.

Some listeners may have perceived these teenage callers as being rebellious. They sounded angry and desperate to me, like someone had let them down. I wondered, "If I were sitting face to face with one of these youths, could I communicate with him? Or would I, too, just let him down?"

I began to make excuses why our conversation could not work. I began to set up roadblocks. I compared my youth to his, thinking we had nothing in common, since I did not do many of the things that kids do. I had no interest in sports as a spectator and I had little talent as a participant. I did not goof off or play around as much as most kids. I was more serious and spent time with adults. What could one of these teenage callers and I possibly have to say to each other?

And then I began to recall my youth. I remembered seeing people getting blown up in Vietnam on TV every day. To many teenagers at that time, becoming an adult was like a death sentence. When you turned eighteen, you were supposed to run off to Canada, go to Vietnam to get blown up, or blow yourself away. I remembered people thinking they had no hope for the future. No tomorrow. Their concern for their future as an adult robbed them of their carefree teenage years. Then when the war was over, some were caught off guard. Some were not prepared to face life as adults, or as the parents of today. They had never expected to live that long.

I suddenly began to realize just how much the teenager and I had in common, yet how we are still so different. When I was younger, I wanted to do "adult things" with older people at church. But he wants to do adult things by experimenting with sex, drugs, and cults. Neither of us had the chance just to be kids. I worried about my future because of the war on the other side of the world. He worries about his future because of the war deep inside him. Maybe I was too hasty in setting up roadblocks to communication. Maybe we do have something to say to each other after all.

Do you and some teenager (or do you and some adult) have something to say to each other? Do you and some teenager (or do you and some adult) have something to say to God together?

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