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On Adolescence

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Generalities inspired by Eugene Peterson’s devotional April 30, Adolescence is a Gift.

At what stage is the church-at-large presently?  Infancy is the discovery of itself in thumb-sucking egocentricity and fascination over its own body and that which supplies it. Adolescence is the awareness of “deeper [biologically] currents” from within and the excitement of things without that gratify new longings.  A new awareness also of a larger world and a desire for significance and recognition within it in the meaning of one’s own person.  An intensive relationship with peers at the expense of parents whose authority now is questioned if not rejected, as is that of the adult world itself.  A delight in one’s own opinions and the ability to form them as constituting the definitive truth of a matter.  A remarkable skill in “lawyer-type” argumentation that stupefies and silences parents and gives suggestion of a wit whose source is supernatural, but is not God’s.

A time of indulgence of appetites for “junk” food and sugar-coated things without regard for health or body which seem to them invincible and not lacking in energy.  Characteristically loud, lazy, undisciplined, self-indulgent, headstrong in enthusiasms, fickle and changing in affections and loyalties, inexplicable in moodiness from depression to elation.

Generally contemptuous of substantial authority figures while adulating the scummiest of subculture heroes as objects of swooning adulation and near worship.  Late hours, much sleeping-in, messy rooms, trails of towels and clothing left on the floor to be picked up by mother or climbed over to reach one’s bed!  Inordinate attention to one’s complexion, hair, body and appearance.  A studied and affected “poverty” of ragged sloppiness whose factory-torn jeans and other accoutrements command an exorbitant price. Easily manipulated by current fads to the point where one would rather be seen dead than not be seen in them.

Shallow and opinionated, with long intensive hours on the telephone to peers and no more than monosyllabic grunts to teachers or parents.  Capable of profuse emotion, sympathies, excessive kindness and cruelty.  Self-justifying and incapable of reproof and admonition.  Not disposed to receive instruction or correction.  More disposed to talk than to listen.  Easily hurt, offended, slighted, agitated, misunderstood, unfairly accused, and whose favorite phrase is: “It’s not fair.”  Full of turbulence and discord with every petty thing heightened and exaggerated and every redemptive thing slighted, rejected or ignored.

A painful season enough in teen years but tragic when protracted into adulthood.  What is the spiritual correspondence to this as it is found in the body of Christ?  What solution?

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