Thursday, April 24, 2014

Prom, Bad Choices, and Love

My mom came to visit recently. I was driving when I noticed her white knuckles as I exited the highway somewhere along I-35. Not taking her eyes from the road, she asked, “Don’t they have a yield sign?” Shrugging, I replied, “No, there are two lanes. We can both go. We just agree not to hit each other.”

The more I thought about it, the more I realized this as a metaphor for much of our daily living. It’s not a way of living life in all its fullness that comes by faith, but it’s a good start.

Similarly, I was struck by the lack of a traffic light in Krum when we first moved in. What I noticed at the four-way stop in downtown Krum is similar to what happens when I exit the highway. We recognize each person as they come to a stop. We let one another go. We take turns. It’s a lesson that I deeply appreciate as the mother of a 3-year-old. And it’s a lesson that we can often forget as adults in the relentless pursuit of me, mine, and more.

This past weekend, my son and I enjoyed the Easter Eggstravaganza hosted by the Christian Center Assembly of God. What an amazing party for our community! My son’s favorite stop was the Krum Police Department table. He wore his sticker for 3 days in a row, until the sticky had all worn off.

While we were there, I had a helpful conversation with one of the officers. He brought it to my attention that prom is coming up this Saturday night and wondered if I might say a word about responsible fun.

At first, I assumed he was talking about that prom night phenomenon which is usually prefaced by statements like “I love him/her!” “Everybody’s already doing it.” and “We’re graduating and we may never see each other again.” Surging hormones, young love, and a good party can set the stage for some bad choices. But the officer had something else in mind – drinking and driving.

There are conversations we need to have in our homes, whatever the age of your child, grandchild, niece/nephew, etc. My mom was always honest with me, figuring that if I could ask the question, I deserved the answer. And I find that many of our young people lack the basic information they often need to make good and wise decisions.

When I was a teenager going to parties, my mom said, “If you or your friends mess up, if you or your ride are in no condition to drive, call me. Whatever you’ve done, we’ll talk about it later. I would rather you get home safely and we can deal with the rest later.”

I was a typical teenager. I made mistakes, but I always knew that if I got stuck, I could call my mom. Yes, there may have been a whole lot of punishment on the other side, but I would be alive. She drilled this in to me and I knew she meant it. Because we had these conversations, I thought about my limits ahead of time. I was able to avoid some of the mistakes I might have made because I was able to become more grounded in the person I wanted to be, the person God made me to be, rather than folding under the weight of peer pressure.

I found myself echoing my mother’s words to me when I was an intern at a campus ministry. Many college students would celebrate their 21st birthdays with a night of spectacularly bad decisions, but I made sure they had my number because I would much rather help with the fall out than their funeral.

So have these conversations, wherever you are. Be honest with the young people in your life, whether at home or at church. Tell them not only the truth about your life – its struggles as well as its joys – but the hopes and dreams you have for them.

Through real relationships, we give them our love, which is what God asks of us. Jesus says to his disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). That means not just when they’re making A’s, not just when they win a championship, not just when they’re bright and shiny. All the time. And through our love, they just might catch a glimpse of the all-encompassing, perfect love of God.

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