Updated: Mar 9
I can remember riding the bus as a middle school student on the way to a youth event with my youth group. I had spent the entire night of this lock in with a girl we are going to call “Connie”. We hadn’t actually talked a whole lot except for the last hour. I was an outgoing but very shy when it came to girls. At that point however, I knew that time was running our so I finally got up the nerve to talk to her. Well, I got the nerve to talk to her friend which eventually led to a conversation with "Connie."
After we strategically sat together on the bus my heart was POUNDING….I am not sure I had EVER sat that close to a girl other than my sister or my mom and I was pretty sure that this was the GREATEST THING that had ever happened to me. This was one of those OLD BUSES and with every bump I could feel her scooting closer to me until our SHOULDERS were touching. That’s when I saw her hand resting awkwardly on her knee. "Why in the world was her hand so far out of the safety of her body unless she was hoping to hold my very sweaty and shaky hand."
After reaching down to fix my perfectly ok shoelace I casually brushed her hand with my arm and felt her hand slide into mine.
To be honest, the SPACE STATION had never conducted a smoother docking sequence then what "Connie" and I performed in that split second maneuver of hand holding. I can remember as a 7th grader getting ready to go into 8th grade having this SINGULAR THOUGHT for the remaining 20 minute ride…"I FEEL SO ALIVE."
It didn’t matter HOW SWEATY our hands got during that time…there was no way either one of us had the courage to “let go.” The only problem was…I was like an astronaut who had been launched in space to explore Mars but I didn’t even have a rocket ship or a plan on how to get there.
PASSION isn’t a plan. It’s the motivation to get it started.
When the bus arrived, it was pretty late and we were there 30 minutes past the promised arrival time. Her mom whisked her off before I could say goodbye and I NEVER saw her again. It was my first heartbreak…
We remember what it's like to be a teen. There are a lot of things that seem like a good idea at the time but later on the regrets come. If they don’t have a plan they tend to "follow their heart." There’s only one problem with following your heart. The HEART is a terrible leader. The prophet Jeremiah says it this way:
Jeremiah 17:9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
God actually designed our hearts to do good. We are made to reflect the same qualities that God has, but something went wrong when sin entered the picture. When sin entered the picture our hearts have been geared towards SURVIVAL and we’ve been trying to HIDE EVER SINCE.
One great thing we can teach our teens is that relationships aren’t an entitlement. In fact, if they see relationships as an entitlement then they are going to find themselves manipulating things to get their way. That's why the Bible gives this advice:
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.
I like that phrase “guard your heart.” In Hebrew, that phrase is called “mishmar.” It’s an accurate description of what’s happening internally. MISHMAR means to guard with all diligence. It's what teens do while you are holding their cell phone.
When something tries to get into our hearts, mishmar keeps that from happening. It’s the job of MISHMAR to help us to watch the things that try to cause us grief of despair. MISHMAR should keep us from putting our HOPE in temporary things too. It should help us to guard our hearts against things that we know will NEVER fulfill us the way Christ will.
Paul identifies the things that we tend to drift towards to find pleasure and "happiness." These are also barriers to healthy relationships. These 15 things eat away at our relationships and marriages like cancer and grow bigger until we decide to remove them.
Galatians 5:19–21 “... sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, divisions, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.”
Take a look at these. They truly represent relational struggles that EVERY couple may go through. The problem is, these things don’t attack from the outside, they quietly make their way into your heart and then they attack.
For teens an important question to ask is: "what is the state of my heart?" or "Am I READY to take on the well-being of another person?" I think a bigger question at this time might even be: AM I even HEALTHY ENOUGH to keep myself together? Listen ti what David asks of God:
Pslam 139:23–24 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
When we ask God if we are READY for a relationship, we invite HIM to show us the areas in which we need to grow. And here’s the most important part, what mattes most. If we are wanting to grow in our relationships or to just help our teens navigate this tricky arena we can remind them: We don’t ask God to do a diagnostic on our hearts just so that we are DATABLE. No, we ask God to do a diagnostic on our hearts to: “Lead me in the way everlasting.”
You see, being ready to date is a side benefit of being the guy or the girl that God is creating them to be. Being able to take a look and know that because God has formed His character in you, you are even going to be MORE ATTRACTIVE to the kind of person they will one day want to date.
The below articles don't necessarily reflect the values or views of Spring Hills Church or it's staff or employees. They are provided to allow for discussions between teens and parents.