Jesus Didn’t Have Teenagers

It is just before 5:00 on a Thursday morning. It is raining and rather cool for late September.  I have gotten about 4 hours of sleep, if you can call tossing, turning, can’t-turn-off-the-thoughts, twisting around, it’s 5 AM might as well get up – sleep.

The past 24 hours have been something, I can tell you. I work as a counselor assistant at an inpatient drug and alcohol facility. I deal with a lot of people with serious issues and lots of serious consequences. I like my job. I really do. Not all of my clients “get it” – the recovery thing, but some of them do. Those that”get it” make it all worthwhile – all the frustration, all the countless hours, all the emotionally exhausting work that goes into leading addicts and alcoholics from the brink to a better, more whole life.

Yesterday was an exceptionally long day – 11 hours. Monday and Tuesday were long days also. So coming home last night was supposed to be a welcome respite from the frenetic atmosphere of treatment. It certainly started out that way but quickly devolved into chaos and drama.

Did I mention that I have a teenager?

My son has issues, issues that I don’t feel is appropriate to discuss in such a public forum as this. I will say that he has been diagnosed with PTSD and is supposed to take some medicine to help him regulate himself. He is not consistent with doing that simple task and the evidence of what happens is clear. The result … a crazed, manic, obsessive desire to upend the downstairs because he wants to clean. Threatening to throw out other people’s stuff, rearranging things because that is where he thinks it should be placed and generally causing havoc and mayhem in the household (all at 9:00 at night). I suspect, as the decibel level in the house is ever-rising and the cursing would make a longshoreman wince, that he has not been taking his meds and that suspicion was confirmed. As anyone who has dealt with someone with PTSD, when the manic state begins it is very difficult to de-escalate the situation until the stage of exhaustion is reached. After an hour or so of arguing, threats, me walking out to cool off, trying to disengage from the circus unfolding in my living room, we finally reach the stage when the balloon pops and things begin to settle down.

Honestly, I really struggle with dealing with this. It is exhausting. We’ve been dealing with episodic displays like this – and worse – for the past two years. There are times when I just want to give up. There are times when I just want to walk away.

There. I said it. Sometimes I question my sanity and my decision-making process. I question my ability to stay the course. Yes, I know. As a Christian I’m supposed to ask “What would Jesus Do?” in situations like this. I’m sure that Jesus would continue to love and turn the other cheek and stuff.  Spoiler alert: I’m not Jesus. I’m a guy that yells, curses and loses his temper … a lot!  My patience is not inexhaustible.

It’s dawned on me recently that we don’t know what Jesus was like as a teenager. The gospels go from Him being 12 or so to Him being 30. Nary a syllable about his teen years or His life as a carpenter working with his father. Did Jesus give Mary and Joseph a hard time? Did He carry around tons of attitude when His hormones kicked in? Was He a know-it-all? Did He have an entitlement mentality? Did He lord his status over others saying, “Don’t you know who I am?”  Did Mary and Joseph throw up their hands in desperation, yelling at the heavens in frustration?  Did Mary ever question saying “yes” to that angel all those years ago?

One thing we’re told about Jesus is that He could understand what it was like to be us, humans. He experienced the same things we do, He struggled with the same things we do, He felt the same emotions we do. I mean, that’s one of the greatest aspects of the Christian faith, isn’t it? God wasn’t just sitting on some lofty plane without any understanding of the plight of humanity; no, He became one of us and could empathize with our struggles.

So, if that’s true maybe Jesus was a pain the ass to Mary and Joseph during his teen years. Maybe He flouted their authority and sassed them and felt entitled. I don’t know for sure. The record is silent on that matter.

One thing I do know is this: the gospels are silent on Jesus having a family of his own. There is no mention of Him having to deal with a surly, snarky teen. There is no discussion about how He responded to a teenager who had attitude as big as the day is long.

Perhaps there’s a reason for that. Perhaps not even Jesus could keep his cool in dealing with a teenager. Perhaps He would have reached a breaking point with His patience and cast the teen into the sea like he did with the herd of swine. That certainly wouldn’t have been “on message”.

Imagine, an entire faith never takes wing on account of a surly teenager who tries the patience of God.

Jesus never had a teenager to deal with. Just saying.

It Is What It Is

14692471997_aa360acf66_mI’ve been stressed lately.

Very stressed!

In fact, I’ve been running in panic mode and it’s taking it’s toll on me.2059225092_5287415008_m

What’s going on? Well, I’ve been out of work for about five months now.  As you can imagine that has put a real crimp in the cash flow pipeline.  Yes, I’m getting unemployment and yes, I’m actively looking for work and trying to make things happen.  Despite all that, it is no walk in the park being unemployed; it wreaks havoc with your finances and, more importantly, your psychological state and self-confidence.  Being out of work really chisels away at your feelings of self-worth and, sometimes, self-respect.  I sometimes feel like I’m not contributing.  That’s torture for a guy.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of crap and hasn’t experienced the unemployment doldrums.  Well things just got tighter financially and that put me in a tailspin.

I was very frustrated and, honestly, pissed at God.  I felt that I should be further along after 8 years of recovery.  I should have more money in the bank. I should be driving a better car than the one I am currently driving – at least one that is a model year within this millennium! My career should be cruising right along by now.  Instead, I find my self pinching pennies, shopping the dented can aisle, worrying when my car is going to crap out and the like.  It seemed like I was sliding backwards.  Hell, at this point, being stuck in the mud was looking pretty darn appealing. 100761143_226e540b49_m

Quite the pity party, huh!

Yesterday my lovely wife pointed out that I’ve been miserable and it’s making life a bit difficult in the family.  She reminds me of some of the good things that have happened in the past five months: finalizing the adoption of Kris; helping out with Peter while she recuperated from a broken arm; helping Kris adjust to life at home and at school; having the time to help Dad adjust to life as a widower.  She also reminded me that this is not forever.  Smart woman. (Thanks sweetie for the perspective check.)

Then this morning I read two pearls of wisdom that solidified my improving perspective.  One was an email and the other was a blog post.

“Acceptance is kind of like ending a longstanding argument you’ve been having with the Universe.” I took a deep breath, exhaled and said to myself “It is what it is and this too shall pass.”

“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver.  My answer: pretty much anything I’d like.

It just might take a little longer than I expected.

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