Posts Tagged ‘life’

The Teenage Phenomenon

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Non-fiction
Tags: , , , , ,

When you think of the “modern teenager”, not a lot of positive images come to mind. Things like juvenile delinquency, self-harm, smoking, alcohol, drug use, and distrust and disrespect for authority. Now think of an “average teenage girl”. Shallow, covered in makeup, and caring way more about clothes than any kind of intellectual topic. Just the fact that shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Jersey Shore” exist says something about the perceived average teenager. The sad part is that stereotypes are based in reality. Even sadder is that often, it doesn’t stop at twenty.

I’m by no means saying that all teenagers are like this – that’d be pretty hypocritical of me, wouldn’t it? – but the truly average teenager displays at least a couple of these traits. I think the problem stems from teenagers being physically mature and really ready to take care of themselves, but not given even an opportunity to take on the responsibility of adulthood. The teenage phenomenon is when people are in a state of being responsible to no one, sometimes including themselves, where they care mostly about their social life and their own pleasure. This is currently a normal part of life, but it hasn’t always been, and it can be dangerous when people remain in that state for too long. When adults who are still in that state influence actual teens, then you get in serious trouble.

The whole idea of a teenager in its current form, a person between childhood and adulthood, is a concept less than a century old. My great-grandmother was married by the time she was my age, and my grandmother was supporting herself by teaching primary school. Historically, people were children until they were adults. From before the middle ages right up until the Victorian era, people could be, and often were, married off or otherwise forced to grow up well before they were fifteen. After WWI, people in general were wealthier than they were before, allowing the freedom to wait until later to become adults (but as mentioned before, many still made the transition to adulthood early.) This was accompanied by less strict ideas of how one should behave. As people remained on their parents’ dime with more freedom and no strings to hold them down, they paid less attention to what they should be doing, and more attention to what felt good. Thus, the teenage phenomenon was born. Still, most people settled down relatively quickly, and nice, tidy, nuclear families were still the norm. People went through the teenage phase and then swiftly grew up. The sixties saw a shift, though, with hippies and the whole idea of “free love”.  It wasn’t so completely abnormal any more to be adolescent for a long time. Through the seventies, eighties, nineties, and early two thousands, it became more and more acceptable to remain in the teenage state for a long time.

Here is where the teenage phenomenon can get dangerous. A person who remains in that state of no-strings-attached fun times can get into major trouble when they chase after more and more “fun”. When a person is only responsible to his or her self, they can hop from relationship to relationship or go through a string of marry-divorce-repeat and it doesn’t mean anything. That’s destroying the sanctity of marriage as much as gay marriage is, for sure. This is dangerous in several ways: teens find a way to get into trouble on their own, adults still experiencing the teenage phenomenon get into even bigger trouble, and the largest group of adult teens (celebrities) influence actual teens to be just like them.

Let’s say, on another angle, there’s a certain girl who is physically mature at 14. In medieval times, she would have gotten married and that would have been it. Nowadays, she is expected to wait ten more years before getting married. She doesn’t want to wait that long, and others stuck in the teen phase tell her it’s perfectly OK not to. So she goes ahead and gets a boyfriend and ends up pregnant at sixteen. Whoah, big mistake, right? Going to ruin her life, right? Back not so long ago, within the last half century, she would have married the boyfriend and started a family and lived a happy enough life. My point in saying all this is that as the expected teenage years stretch out, you get people ready to make adult decisions but not allowed to take the responsibility and deal with the consequences. They make the decisions any way, and the consequences are handled quite a bit by other people. They expect that pattern to continue even until they really should be dealing with it themselves.

A lot of teenagers go through the teenage phenomenon, and they make mistakes, learn lessons, and grow out of it. But, could the amount of mistakes made be reduced with a bit more responsibility? If that girl actually had to stay with the first guy she had sex with, would she reconsider the tiny dress? If that guy had to earn enough money to eat, would he have smoked that first cigarette? We may never know.

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak

Author’s note: This post has been in draft form since April 8, 2013. I was 16 at the time of writing. It was never published because I wasn’t sure if what I was saying was truth or just what I was feeling. After rediscovering it and reading it over I have decided to publish it unedited, because it’s the truth the way I see it, just as much as anything else on this blog.

Pretty much everything that’s wrong with the world can be summed up in two words: misplaced love. You’ve got your obvious love of money, power, control, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. That’s the kind of love that causes thievery and wars and oppression and a variety of other unsavory topics. Everyone’s heard that the love of money is the root of all evil. Well, it is. But there’s also love poorly placed within humanity.

There are four kinds of love. In English, we just call it all “love”. But in ancient Greek, they had words that distinguished between the four. I’m no scholar in the ancient terms, but those are the words I’m going to use in this post just to tell them all apart.

Agape is the most pure of the four loves. It refers to a spiritual love, an unconditional love that does not require anything in return. This is the kind of love that happens between God and humans, and the kind of love that people show when they are doing something for someone who can never repay them.

Then there is storge. While the internet varies on the technical definition of this term, I’m going to use it here to signify the love felt between parents and their offspring. It is the closest thing to agape that usually falls under our definition of love.

Next is philos, which literally means brotherly love. Think of words like bibliophile, a lover of books, or Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. It is between siblings, of course, but also between platonic friends and it refers to the love of all humankind when seen as a family.

Then we come to the one that causes all the trouble. Eros love. The word reminds me of “error” and “errant”, like this kind of love means you’re messing up. It can mean that, but it doesn’t have to. All types of romantic love fall under eros, from infatuation and lust right up to long-term marriage.

Eros love gets people in trouble with sin because it’s designed to be between a husband and wife. Under those circumstances and under control, it’s a beautiful thing! The problem is, people feel a little bit of attraction for someone, and they recognize that eros love and want to take it all the way. Eros taken to the extreme causes sex before marriage, teen pregnancy, rampant STDs, love affairs, and even rape. It’s when people get infatuated and don’t control themselves because, as they say, “It’s love!”

Another problem is that people mistake philos and other kinds of love for eros. Mistaking philos for eros is what makes it super awkward for a guy and a girl to be alone in a room together. It’s also what makes a girl say, “I’m really close to my best friend, we’re closer than sisters. I think I should ask her on a date.” She’s mistaking the philos love she feels for her friend for the eros love meant for her husband. Confusing agape, storge, and philos  with eros cause all sorts of messed up stuff like rape and child molestation.

Basically, society as a whole thinks that to love someone means to love them in an eros way. People who crave attention often get it in the form of eros love by being promiscuous. Two people who are best friends, no matter what gender, are deluded into thinking that their philos love for each other is eros, and they act on that. (Fan fiction writers, specifically slash shippers, I’m looking at you.) An adult who wishes to mentor children, even in a group setting, must have a background check done to make sure they will not turn their agape love for these kids into eros. It’s so messed up that we have to do that.

Look, I’m not proposing a solution to any of this state that the world is in right now. I’m just saying, here’s where I think the root of the problem lies. Maybe trying to work at the root will help fix the foliage.

Thanks for reading!
~AnotherJesusFreak

I’ve learned a lot since school let out for the summer. It may be nothing monumental, but it’s the kind of stuff about myself and about my culture that they just can’t teach in a classroom. Well, they try but it doesn’t often stick.

A road trip I didn’t want to take taught me that a summer job as a tour guide is something I want to try, and that learning French can get you far, even in something as simple as that. On this same road trip, a tour of an aquarium showed me that I absolutely do not want to be a marine biologist (too slimy), but being a lab technician would be more interesting than I thought. (Microscopes are fun!)

One of my friends dropped by last night, and I even managed to find a lesson in that. You see, he’s on a road trip, and underestimated the amount of time it would take to get here. He had planned to spend the night in a place that’s actually two hours away, but by the time he got here it was about eight in the evening. So, my parents offered him the sofa for the night. Which lead me to think about history. Years ago, as my grandfather would say, if somebody needed a meal or a place to stay the night, you just gave it to them. It could be  a friend of a friend, or someone you just met, it didn’t matter. I mean, my friend was going by car and the distance between places was still too much. These travellers back then would have gone by boat, horse, or on foot. You couldn’t just turn them out into the cold and say, “They’ll find a place to stay,” when it could be a day’s trek to the next town. I guess I just kind of figured that out last night.

Just writing this post has made me realize that these are the kind of things that can only be learned if a person allows it. I can only learn these things if I take hold of certain moments, words, feelings, and thoughts, and analyze them a bit. Not to completely dissect them so far that they lose their original meaning, but just enough so that I can take a feeling like, “Ew, this seaweed is gross,” and translate it into “Marine biology is not for me!”

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak

  1. Purpose – God created the universe, people, and me with a purpose: to please him. I tend to think of a major reason why parents like having children around: because seeing the child happy makes the parent happy.
  2. Justice – People who do bad things get punished. This should keep the world out of chaos. This also means there’s an absolute set of right and wrong. I like it when things are all black and white with very little grey area.
  3. Mercy – You don’t have to look far to see that everybody does bad things. God offers mercy, grace, and the chance to do good, through Jesus Christ, to all who want it.
  4. Friendship – God’s Holy Spirit lives within me, and I can go to God with anything, anytime, and He always listens. I am never alone. He helps me to be truly good, something I can’t do on my own.
  5. Love – God loves everybody unconditionally, whether or not they love Him back.
  6. Free will – God doesn’t force us to do anything. We can choose what we do every single moment.
  7. All-powerful God – He is always in control. There is absolutely nothing he can’t do, nothing He doesn’t know. Add that to “He loves me,” and “He listens to me,” and it’s pretty awesome.

After all, what have I got to lose?

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak

Here’s another piece from my Facebook notes from a while back:

Well, there’s been some turbulence these past couple weeks, and it’s been busy as anything. But among all that, God is my peace, my rock and my redeemer. I somehow manage to find time to sit and just chill in his presence, and a few nights ago I came up with this little piece of imagery.

Ok, picture a diamond as big as your head. An extremely beautiful, clear diamond. Everybody’s got one of these gorgeous hunks of rock inside of them. It’s your soul! Now pour a bucket of black paint over it. Ok, well, perhaps not everyone’s soul is completely black, but most people’s diamonds are mostly covered. Think about it, is it actually possible to be perfect? Goodness, no.

This is the part that totally confuses me: some people will hold up this completely black goop-covered diamond and say, “Look at what a beautiful black soul I have.” Uh, ok…

There is also the other kind of person that will paint over their black goo with white paint. Often, it will all mix up and end up all grey and icky. Other times, they’ll end up with a white-painted diamond. It’s not black on the outside, but it’s nowhere near as pretty as the original, clean, clear diamond, and it’s still got the black goop all over it under the white paint.

Now picture a little floating white light. It’s reeeeeally bright. This is Jesus. If the owner of the soul-diamond asks, this little white light will go into the middle of the gooey diamond and start chipping away the black from the inside. But only if you let Him. Everywhere a little piece of black paint falls off, a ray of light shines through. Sooner or later, while the last little bit of paint is getting chipped away, the light glows out and covers it.

The soul I just described

Just picture it, a diamond as big as your head floating there in the middle of the dark world, glowing like a star. Rainbows glint off the surface here and there, it’s a beautiful sight!

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak

Most of the people around me have heard of God and Jesus and all that, but lots of them don’t hardly seem to care. I don’t get it. They’ve heard the Good News, and complain about a sucky life and don’t connect the dots. Now I’m going to connect them for you. Jesus makes your life GOOD. He doesn’t always make it easy, but you know you have Someone to turn to when you’re down, and He takes care of everything so you have PEACE. You can’t say that about your wishy-washy relationships and upside-down life, now can you?

Imagine the perfect guy. Multiply the “perfect” factor by two. Most importantly, he’s kind, gentle, loving, and humble. Now, imagine he’s your best friend. Awesome, right?

Ok, now think of all the bad stuff you’ve done. (There was that time, at that party, you reeeeally wanted to impress him/her, so you… Then there was that time when you were bored, and you… Oh, and don’t get me started on how you were soooooo mad that time that you…)

Right, now remember Mr. Awesome? He’s never done anything wrong, literally. Yes, that would be humanly impossible, but this is your imagination here. So, Mr. Perfect has to stand trial for all that nasty stuff you did. He didn’t do any of it, but he gets the death sentence anyway. Your best friend!!! Three days later, however, when some of his friends go to his grave, there he is gone. (Newfie all the way, b’y!) They turn around, and he’s standing right behind them, as alive as ever! It might sounds crazy, but wouldn’t you be relieved? Your best friend’s back from the dead!

This stuff really happened. It was Jesus, if you haven’t guessed. He loves you. He wants to be your best friend. You can talk to Him like He’s you friend! Just like, “Hey, what’s up?” and everything, no need for fancy “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name” kind of language. He doesn’t want you to be under a set of rules, He wants you to be free. Isn’t that what you want, too?

Finally, Jesus doesn’t want you to be punished for all your bad stuff, so He took your punishment when he was killed on the cross. The question is, will you accept his offer?

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus freak

P.S. This is from my one of my Facebook notes from a while back, if you thought you had heard it before.

Being a Teenager

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Non-fiction
Tags: , , , ,

This was on a friend’s Facebook not too long ago. (It’s not my writing or anything…)

A blurb I found on a friend's Facebook about the woes and joys of being a teen.

And all that sparked me to write this…

Everybody says it’s sooooo hard being a teenager. But I haven’t found it to be too bad. Actually, it’s pretty awesome.  Sometimes, we don’t realize  that whatever we do now will make either a good memory or a bad one for when we’re older. We’ve got the world at our fingertips. We’re considered responsible enough to manage our own time, and to some extent, money, while still riding on our parents’ dime for all our needs. We’ve got very few responsibilities, and we’re free as the wind. Even so, that’s no reason to be irresponsible, as so many seem to think is necessary.

Really,  do you have to mess up your body with any combination of drinking, drugs, sex, piercings, and tattoos to prove your individuality or have fun? Actually, whether you realize it or not,  it’s really only to fit in with a bunch of other people who are all going  to regret it sooner or later. Do you have to sneak out past curfew, hang out with the wrong crowd, or swear like a sailor JUST because your parents don’t want you to, and you think it’s “cool?”

Maybe it’s because I’m not irresponsible, or because, as my mother tells me, I was born mature, that I haven’t found these adolescent years to be so hard. Maybe it’s because I see the glass as half full, or because I haven’t yet experienced the “young love” everyone talks about. Maybe it’s because half my teenage years are still ahead of me, or maybe, when people say “teen years”, they actually mean “early adulthood”. Either way, all this angst is exaggerated.

On one hand, I’ve never really tried to fit in, so I’ve been spared the drama that plagues some popular people. No worries about backstabbing friends – my friends appreciate me and I appreciate them.  I also don’t have to worry about wearing the right clothes or saying the right things. On top of that, I know that at the right time, the right Special Someone will like me for me. I don’t wear make-up usually or dress skimpily because I’m not trying to impress anybody.

On the other hand, I have God. He’s a Best Friend who is always there for me, in the good times and in the bad times. He’ll never start drama and He’ll never leave me, so I’ve always had a helping hand through the bad times, and I’ve got eternal stability.

All you people who are complaining about how hard these years are, maybe you can learn something here. (I’m not going to tell you what to learn – you’ve got to figure that out for yourself.) Even just learn one thing from this.  Please, it’s for your own good.

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak