Teens Need Grace

“Unmerited favor.”

For some reason, I remember that being the classic simple definition of grace I have heard over the years of my religious experience.  I would always smile and nod, and offer my intellectual agreement with this two word explanation.  But truthfully, “unmerited favor” just doesn’t connect with me in any real-life kind of way.  You?

“Cut me some slack, please!” Now that is a real cry for grace, if ever there was one.  I can sure relate to that one.  It’s like, “I know you don’t have to give me a break and go easy on me, but it sure would mean the world to me right now if you would.”

“I know I messed up (again), but I really am trying.  Really.  Please be patient with me!” Okay, I’ve been there many times my self.

“I feel so much pressure on me right now, I don’t even know where to begin!  I’m sorry I’m not living up to your expectations.  And I’m sorry I don’t even know what to do about it.” Been there, for sure!

If you haven’t found your self in a position of needing some grace, I’ve got news for you – you must not be a human being!  Because as far as I can tell, every one of us desperately needs others to cut us some slack and give us a break here and there along our journeys.

Especially teenagers!  This is not about picking on teens and saying they screw up a lot.  Sure they do.  Don’t we all?  It just seems that the mistakes and failures of adolescents can be more glaring and obvious, and they are often more painfully aware of their need of grace than us “grown-up” types.  As parents, teachers, counselors, youth pastors, coaches, and other adults who live up close and personal with teens – are we aware of how much they need grace from us?

I am not saying we throw responsibility and accountability out the window and just let teens run willy nilly in a boundary-free field of grace with no consequences.  That simply wouldn’t be loving.  But within the important rules and boundaries we set for our teens, let us all remember to include generous helpings of grace.  Sometimes they have already paid enough of a price, before we even find out what they have done.  And what they need most from us the grace to embrace and accept them with their failure, and lovingly encourage them along the path to recovery and growth.  Just look at the response of the Father to his “prodigal” son!

Other times, what teens need most from us is the loving enforcement of firm consequences to deliver enough suffering and guidance to help them learn from their mistake – and the grace to embrace and accept them with their failure and to lovingly encourage them along the path to recovery and growth.

May you grow in grace.  And may your teens thrive in the grace they find in you.

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