Teenage Christianity – It all comes together

teenage christianity

Teenage Christianity can be so anxious that it can hardly be called “Faith.” At least, that was my youthful experience.

Being Cristian was a serious business.

I was so busy with self-correction that I often missed the beauty of Jesus in my life.

It seemed that every church I attended wanted to warn young people against the dangers of sin.

I suppose adults were trying to protect us, but I got caught in a net of self-examination.

What was the difference between exaggeration and a lie?

If I told my parents that my essay had got “excellent”, would that be the sin of pride?

What about marriage and all that scary stuff? Could a woman have babies without having a husband?

This anxiety did not come from Catholic influence because, in those days, I was searching other churches.

But I have seen similar symptoms in earnest young Catholics.

I believe it comes from the young person’s lack of experience.

At that age, we depended on adult guidance which, for the best of reasons, was largely negative.

Years later, I was determined that my children should not have adult guilt thrust upon them.

There was only one rule.

You can do anything you like as long as you don’t hurt anyone. And the person on top of the “don’t hurt list” is yourself.

Then we would talk about the various ways we could hurt ourselves and others.

That worked well when the children were very young, but eventually, their Dad and I had to agree that the only authentic instructor was experience.

That was true teaching.

As parents, our job was to provide encouragement and band-aids.

If we can use a parable to describe this, we can talk about “life school.”

God puts us in “Life School” to grow, which we do through success and failure.

We are given tests, and when we fail. The test is repeated until we learn from it.

When we pass the test, there is a short vacation and then a new test comes along.

So how do we prepare our children for “life school?”

By letting them know that they are God’s unique creations and are here to grow.

By convincing them that they are greatly loved.

By showing them that we learn with both the head and the heart.

By helping them understand that “sin” is not failure but teaching. Sin always has an indicator that points to what is right.

For parents, a good, honest memory is a valuable aid. We listen to our children.

We try not to preach and teach.

We accept that we all have growth spaces in our lives.

We know we are not alone. The Sacred Presence of Jesus is always with us.

So when do we graduate from “Life school?

Some people call that “Death.” I prefer to see it as our” True Birth.”

As we grow towards it, we can experience times of deep peace. The world, and everything in it, has spiritual meaning.

Age ennobles us to laugh at the seven deadly sins.

With age, we realise everything that has happened to us has been about spiritual growth. We have been prepared for the greater reality.

It is all meant to be, and it is all about love.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator. Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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