Tonight’s blog is brought to you by Bears. Mama Bears, to be exact. All around the world tonight there are literal and figurative mama bears flexing their muscle to keep danger away from their cubs.
The teenage years are tough. For one thing, there are hidden dangers lurking in social media everywhere which means this mama bear spends a good deal of time reading my kid’s facebook pages, twitter accounts, and texts. (Side note, if you are not doing this, you need to. Your kids are prone to sin just like you. And without accountability, they will derail completely. With accountability they will still fail, so don’t be shocked.)
Another danger lies in messages being told to our kids about success and self-worth. My cubs are growing up in a performance based, incredibly fickle world. Without consistent truth being spoken (and even with it), they are highly susceptible to believing lies about themselves such as, “you don’t measure up, nobody really likes you, you’re so awkward, girls/guys will never like you, your parents don’t care about you, your best isn’t enough”, and on and on.
And this is to say nothing of the dangers of driving, drugs, and alcohol, being recruited by gangs (yes, this did happen to one of mine on their 9th-grade year!?), unfair teachers and coaches, bullies and impulsive decisions to jump off a roof.
But, the danger I am becoming more aware and vigilant about lately is quite sneaky. It’s so subtle you almost can’t recognize it. My cubs have experienced it their whole lives, as have I. And without intending to, I often collaborate with this danger. It’s comfort. Being comfortable to be precise. I always felt so thankful to raise my children in a country surrounded by peace and prosperity, and I still am. But I am coming to see, the more I read the gospel and the more I see the world, that these blessings can be a trap if we begin to desire them above God.
My pastor once preached from a passage in Psalm 3. He said something that deeply convicted me I have never forgotten:
“Often we would rather have comfort without God, than trouble with Him.“
This desire for a comfortable life can lead us to compromise our integrity, shy away from risks, selfishly hoard our possessions, avoid necessary conflict and betray our commitments. It can also cause us to insulate ourselves in a “bubble” away from messy broken people, live relatively good lives and become dependent on ourselves instead of reliant on God. However, over and over again in scripture, God tells us this life is going to hurt. It won’t always feel good. We will be stretched and bumped and bruised and emptied if we are to follow Christ. In fact, in Philippians 3:10, Paul tells us “if we want to know Christ’s power we also have to know his suffering.”
If I truly want to protect my children from harm, I have to accept they will need to feel pain. They need to know sacrifice and how it hurts to give to others when there aren’t any left for you. They need to know rejection so they can appreciate that Christ was rejected on their behalf so God could accept them. They need to know disappointment so they can remember that this life isn’t all about them getting their way. They need to know physical pain so they can develop compassion for the suffering of others. And they need their mama bear to fight against the comfortable life, so it won’t keeping them from knowing Him who is the source of life.