By Cindy Koch –
With teenagers in the house, there’s one thing I’m pretty sure about: I don’t know everything that they are getting away with. Now, I think I know most things (I hope). But myself, being a pretty sneaky high-school girl in years gone by, I can recognize the stories that don’t add up just right. And I can remember the excuses I used to side-step around the rules under the roof. And I could go on and on about the scenarios I’ve dreamed up in my head, the terrible ways they could possibly betray my trust.
No doubt, we’ve had our issues. Teenagers, like toddlers, love to push the boundaries to see how much they can get away with. Little sinners who are trying to figure out their place in the wide world, there is sure to be a little bit of stumbling over the threshold. So this is why I’m almost positive I don’t know everything that they are getting away with. When I am serious about my confession before God, a poor, miserable sinner in thought, word, and deed, I am shocked to learn things about the depth of my own sin. So I can only imagine there is a just as much baggage and shame in the hearts and minds of each one of my sweet little sinners. But I’ll be honest. I’m not totally shocked when they end up disappointing their father and me. I mean, that’s what sinners do. They are selfish. They fail. They hurt the ones they love.
We make it a habit to identify the evil that rages within. Our children are called to account when they deceive or lie. We recognize when they hurt themselves or others, intentionally or unintentionally. But most importantly, we forgive them. Right then and there. Not after they do better next time, not after they pay due penance for the wrongs done. They are forgiven.
But I’ll tell you what does shock me. Every once in a while, they fight forgiveness. Either the sin is too overwhelming or the shame is too great, but for some reason they can’t believe their sure and simple freedom in the Words of Christ. They want to beat themselves up a little longer. They want to stay lost in their darkness, when the light has already overtaken it. And I’m reminded where we still live.
The evil one is getting away with murder in the hearts and minds of my unbelieving children. And I hate his blinding, deafening venom that distracts them from the truth. I lament the world and its ridiculous screams, defending this unholy prince of death. All he has to do is plant that tiny seed of doubt, “Did God really say?” And I’m shocked that our children are hypnotized by his lies, even amidst the words of the life-giving Gospel.
But this unhappy moment is not their whole story. These unsure feelings do not determine their eternity. A cosmic battle for life and death has already taken place on a cross. A flood of new life has already resurrected the little sinner that doubts this forgiveness. They may forget and even fight against who they are, but it does not change who Christ made them to be.