Adolescence is a time of extreme turmoil. A young person must seek their place in the larger world. It can be a time of great distress. This should also be a time when they are learning what it will mean to be an adult member of their community. Today, I fear this process and stage of a younger person's life has become even more confusing. We have removed some of the Truth of life, and replaced it with chaos.
It can seem overwhelming to imagine yourself among the millions of people in this world. What is it about you that makes you stand out among the masses? Why do you matter? What is special about you? I imagine that it must be exceptionally difficult to answer these questions, when society seems to be send such non-answers to these life changing questions. I can see several reasons why I believe we are doing our children get harm.
First, we celebrate mediocrity. We would hate to offend our own children's self-esteem, and so we lie to them. If all of the important people in your life are lying to you about your true gifts and talents, then how is a young person ever to discover those gifts that make me different than everyone else. We have to be honest with our children. Life does not give participation trophies. What a wicked thing to do to a person. Society spends eighteen years telling children they are the greatest at everything, and then they enter reality and are destroyed by the real world. We tell ourselves we are loving them, but this has to be the most hateful thing a person could do to another.
The strange thing is that society spends so much time telling our kids they are special, then they enter their science classes and learn that according to science they aren't very special after all. Evolution teaches our children that they are of no more significance that the night crawlers they stepped on while entering the school. Man, in all his "glory", is nothing more than just another creature. Man is a blob of random chances. Any good thought a child may have about themselves is just the random reaction of varying degrees of chemicals within their own brain. No one has any reason to believe that they are special at all. Beyond that, we teach them that we have but one trip through this world, and then the rest is nothingness.
As children enter this time of great searching, we tell them you can be who or whatever you want. There are absolutely no boundaries. That sounds like such an inspiring message, but it is also very wicked. We should teach our children in the way they should go. Are we not responsible for their development, and shouldn't we act in a means that would be for their own long term good?
Were you to see a friend about to make a life threatening mistake, then it would be exceptionally wicked to stand back and allow them to do it, wouldn't it? Why do we do the exact same thing with our kids?
Adolescence should be a time where young people explore themselves. However, there has to be parents willing to knock them back on track when they venture from truth. If they are going down a path that will lead to heartache, then parents must be parents. All too often parents trade a child's long term welfare for the prospect of temporal happiness. I would argue that this is just as bad as a parent that cruelly abuses their children. Both options lead to the same result. These poorly reared children lead to damaged adults.
What is the alternative? The Truth. Not a truth, or some type of truth, or the truth for today, but the absolute objective Truth.
First, you were created in the very image of your Creator. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. He is infinitely concerned about you. He has given all the blessings that you now enjoy. You are not just another animal. You are not the product of random chance. The God of the Universe has numbered the hairs on your head. He has created you with purpose. His purpose.
Our identity can only be found in meeting that very purpose. Augustine said, "my heart was restless until I rested in thee". Pascal described it as a "God-shaped" hole in the heart of man. That is what the entire search for identity is really concerned about. How do I fill the hollow feeling I have in the deepest parts of me? Those places that I won't even admit to, yet they haunt me each night.
C.S. Lewis said that one of the reasons we are never comfortable in this world is because we were created for another world. The Westminster Confession says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That is your purpose. That is why you are here.
Every part of you is designed and created to glorify your Creator, and everything that you do besides that will never satisfy you. You will be continually restless. What are you placing in your "God-shaped" hole? We all have "our" thing. It could be sex. It could be lovers. It could be the opinion of others. It could even be good works. All of these are ultimately lacking, because you have yet to find your true purpose and identity.
This is not a new message. If you read the book of Ecclesiastes, then you see that Solomon came to the same conclusion. He was the wisest man to ever live. As he reached the end of his life, he turns back and evaluates it from hindsight. Women? Oh he had tons, and it amounted to nothing. Riches? He was extraordinarily wealthy, and it also amounted to nothing. Power? He had countless kingdoms paying him tribute, and it too left him empty handed. The one thing that he wanted above all else, was God. He knew that he was created to worship God, and nothing apart from that would ever satisfy the deep longings of his heart.
This is a short message to friends and family of folks seeking something other than God. If you know that the only thing that will ever fill your loved ones "God-shaped" hole, is God, then how could you support them in trying to fill it with anything else? If we truly love them, then we have a responsibility to speak the truth in love, and point them to the only One that will ever give us our Identity, Purpose, and point us toward the gifts and talents He has blessed us with.