I was seventeen, in the spring semester of my first senior year of high school, when I had my first car date.   Until that time I had only been allowed to date trucks.    At seventeen I didn’t know that much about women. I  knew they cried a lot and owned a lot of shoes.   (After getting married and raising a daughter I realize I only know what my wife and daughter allow me to think I know.)   

All through grade school  I thought girls were only good for transporting cooties.  I got past the cooties stage in junior high school but didn’t lose my fear of females.    By the time I reached high school I realized they could do more than just get emotional and point at  my hair so I decided to ask one out.    After eighteen failed attempts  I got my first date.   She had to get off of the fork lift to answer the phone but she said “yes.”

I took two weeks to make myself pretty.   To alleviate my acne problem I plastered my face, using a #10 caulking gun, with a cream that was impervious to water and could only be removed with steel-enforced sandpaper by a professional wearing lead-lined gloves.   It almost worked but one about the size of a peanut survived.   Even this did not discourage me.  I had an answer.   Being a pious teenager concerned about lost souls, I put a band-aid on it and decided to tell her I cut myself saving.  

Night fell (in my situation I really think it was either tripped or pushed) and it was time for the big date . . . uhh . . . the experience, not her size.    I had my mom’s car, my dad’s lecture, and a five-pound bag of breath mints, enough to cover that first critical hour.   The piece de resistance was dousing myself with an industrial-strength bottle of English Leather.   My face was twitching, my legs were shaking, and my hands were sweating.   I knew I was either ready for my first date or my hair tonic was eating through my scalp.

Adolescence is like being on a first date that lasts for six years.    It is literally a first date with life – filled with awkwardness, fear, joy, sadness, loneliness, love, and often all in the same day.  You could have experienced every one of those emotions in one night during our church group devotion time at Fuge last week. Like the cream covering his face, what’s on the outside is not necessarily indicative of what’s on the inside of a teenager.          

Do you have a teenager in your home?    Remember what it was like to be one.   These can be the most rewarding years in parenting.   Today’s teenagers  have some of the same struggles we did plus others we didn’t and they desperately need our understanding, patience, encouragement, prayers, and love.   They sometimes need our lectures but they never need our condescending attitudes.  Pray for our students. Pray for Michael Lamb and all of our youth leaders as they work with our students.

Adolescence, as colorful as it is, cannot be seen with the naked eye -- only experienced.  No reservation needed.   Just enjoy it when you get there.    There is room for everyone to experience once.   It’s a great place to visit . . . but you wouldn’t want to live there.

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