Monday, February 9, 2009

Rebelling Against Parents

Q: Ever since I hit the age of about 11, I've struggled with rebellious thoughts and actions against my parents. I know it's wrong -- I've found several verses in the Bible on it, but sometimes I just cannot help it. My parents drive me crazy, creating rules that seem to hold me back from what I can be. I wish they would just leave me alone at times and let me just make my own decisions. Not all, but most.

I love my parents, but they're always worrying about my safety. I understand they care about me and want to protect me, but I can't do what I feel God is leading me to do without them interfering. It doesn't make sense! I will do the same things/go the same places when I am 18.

I'm talking about going around the world telling people about Jesus, down to the deep dark places where God is needed the most. I'm restless and want to make a difference, but I can't do that with my parents always concerned of my safety and well-being. How can I become content of where I am now? Should I focus on studying the Bible and strengthening my relationship and walk with Christ? (By the way, I'm a Christian but not Catholic.) However, it's hard for me to be content with just that. Any suggestions?

By the way, I think this is an awesome thing you are doing!!! Thank you so much. What a great idea.

A: This is definitely a good question you’re asking, something that all teenagers face during these years. I do, for one. I’m glad you’ve decided to deal with this matter in a good way!

In the Bible, Luke 2:42-52, it says this about Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph: “And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

In these Bible verses, Jesus shows us another way that we can imitate him: by obeying and honoring our parents. The story of Jesus in the Temple is a great example of why it is beneficial to obey the rules of our parents, as long as it is in accordance with the commandments of God.

Notice that in the story Jesus responded to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus, though he was a child of 12, was where he was called to be: in the Temple with his Father, talking with God’s people. But still he respected his parents, came back with them to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. And this is an interesting part: it says what followed, right after he obeyed his parents, “And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

By obeying and respecting our parents like Jesus did, we are not only becoming more like Jesus, but we also gain wisdom and favor before God and man. It is a struggle: Jesus, after all, was sinless; we cannot possibly succeed in obeying our parents perfectly without fail. But it is worth it in the end, to do our best to respect our parents and in return to gain respect from them and from God.

With that said, what you’re feeling now is understandable: you want to do what you feel God is calling you to do. You want to go out on spread the Gospel! That is an amazing vocation, one that could take you many places—I encourage you to keep praying about it. But God also knows that you need to be prepared to fulfill your vocation, and that’s what this time in your life is about. It’s about finding out who you really are, what you need to do to be the person God’s calling you to be. And it’s not all going to happen in a day— remember, Jesus was 30 when he went out to sow his seeds into peoples’ hearts: you definitely have plenty of time.

In the meantime, to get prepared for what you feel God is calling you to do and to be content with where you are, I suggest looking around your church to see if there are any sort of ministries/outreaches you could join: see if you’re cut out for converting people who are in your same area. If you find there are none, why not start one? If you’re not already going to a Bible study, join one: learn what you’re preaching. What about if you helped out a charity or a soup kitchen? That way you show an example of Jesus without saying a word. Get as much into it as you can, so you can grow in experience and mature in your faith.

If you think your parents wouldn’t approve (though I can’t see why not), try to explain rationally to your parents what you want to do, reason with them, hear what they think, and try to look at what they’re saying from their point of view. By that, you show you’re mature enough, to not only think rationally, but to share the faith with others on your own, and hopefully strong enough to endure the sorrows that may come along with it. Maybe they’ll even be less worried about you. And also remember that your parents need your prayers, too.

I hope everything works out for you!

God Bless,