Holding Back the Future

Holding Back the Future

I remember watching The Jetson’s growing up. I appreciated it, but I loved SilverHawks (go ahead, make fun), Transformers and Star Wars. I am a big fan of TV shows and movies that dream about what the future will be like.

One of my favorite ideas though is flying cars (I thought the Hoverboard was pretty cool, too. The one from Back to the Future, not those fake ones on Amazon that catch fire…)

It’s exciting when I see companies like Uber investing in fururistic ideas that can and will make a difference. I’m serious about this, flying cars (though at least 10 years away) are something that could change things for the better, and I’m ready to see it happen.

What is it that has kept things like that from happening sooner? Why haven’t we seen real progress in the development of technology? Lots of people have ideas on this, but I believe there are underlying issues that apply to more than future progress that affect our human ability to either feel the need to change or complacently coast with what we have.

When our focus in on control rather than exploration, we don’t even recognize that something is missing.

When we try to stay too safe rather than coach kids on how to navigate failure, we miss opportunities that failing can teach. We also miss out when we fall into the trap that we should teach practical over principle in education.

I saw this YouTube video the other day from Boyinaband #DontStayInSchool. His whole premise is that the education system did not teach him what he needed to learn. The fact is if he had been taught the skills he talks about, he wouldn’t have remembered them because of his attitude not because of his ability to learn. The truth is if we lose site of the benefit that comes from learning the basics of education and using that as a foundation to then understand life skills like budgeting rather than complaining that “no one taught me how to pay my taxes,” we have drifted into the zone of not seeing life for what it is, an opportunity every day to learn something new. The skills we learn in school are about the principle, not the information.

Here’s the thing, some educational approaches do need to change but the more important change is to tell our kids that it’s up to them to learn everything they can with the tools they have. If they don’t learn how to pay taxes or what your basic human rights are, that rests fully on their choice to not go find those things out. It’s up to us as parents to help our kids learn along with the school and not assume they are getting all they need. I tell my kids all the time, some things seem pointless, but it is your opporunity to ask, “What can I still learn here?”

So what can we do? At the core, we can encourage excitement about learning, engage relationships, stop blaming everyone else for kids not learning, and take responsibility for our part. By not having this approach to life, we are suppressing a future that desperately wants to be seen but we are being held back by the distraction of the blame game.

Ricky Lewis is our Executive Director and has been with us since the beginning. As a father of 4, he seeks to help parents and their kids Live Life Better.
A Teenage Love Story

A Teenage Love Story

Think about your favorite love stories…are they real? From movie scenes? Are they written by your favorite author?

Teenage love stories are often awkwardly, impossibly romantic. The kind you find in sitcoms, books and blockbuster movies. Think awkward teen falling in love with a vampire who is 100 years older than her. Best friends finally realizing they love each other and living happily ever after. Imagine Inside Out’s picture of an imaginary boyfriend claiming, “I would die for Riley.”

In the midst of awkward imperfection comes perfect romance. We don’t watch movies or read books that end with a horrible breakup and no happy conclusion. We enjoy love stories that end with hope for a better future and hope that we could also one day find a love like that – a love that reads a notebook full of their love story every day, the kind of love that changes the beast into a man, a love that can even survive carbon-freezing in a galaxy far, far away.

But why don’t we put the same emphasis on the kind of love that is hard and real? Sometimes love hurts, it disappoints, it is jealous, it is almost always messy. When we have a view of love that is only good and sweet and always smells good, it is easy to walk away when it gets hard. Why would we settle for a love that doesn’t always bring joy? There must be something wrong with this person if I don’t always find them cute and charming like in the movies…

We do a disservice to teenagers when we encourage them to settle on surface-level, easy love. Because that’s what it is!

True love, faithful love is the kind of love that sticks it out when it isn’t easy. The kind of love you really want will be hard and difficult, but it is so worth it! That is what I want teenagers to hear.

Don’t settle for love that only comes around when your makeup is done or your shirt is clean – fall in love with the person who still kisses you when you have morning breath and a hole in your shirt. Don’t look for a love that completes your world – find someone who will make you better for the world.

Below are images taken (with permission) from the journal of a High School girl. In this entry to God, she is realizing that hope, joy and purpose are not found in her boyfriend. He isn’t perfect but neither is she. I love her vulnerability and the way that she acknowledges the difficulty of finding a love that matters – in this case, a love with her Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

 

So what do we do with this? There is pain, confusion and uncertainty with all love, but especially when it comes to teenage love. Our teenagers are trying to figure out school, family, friends, extracurricular activities, and then you throw hormones into the mix and everything gets jumbled!

From this letter, I hope you see the importance of talking to teens about love, expectations and balancing all the exciting things (or distractions) that come with being a teen. Use the television shows, movies and books that they love to talk about the reality of love and where they should find their value. Don’t hide your own relationships from them, but model healthy, hard, real love (whether that is with a spouse, friend, or family member).

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, I hope you will be extra sensitive to the vulnerabilities and temptations that can come with teenage love. They need you to show them what real love looks like – don’t miss the opportunity!

 

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
Top 25 Scenes from Star Wars Movies

Top 25 Scenes from Star Wars Movies

I am going to geek out a little bit for this post. The new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, is coming out as you read this, and it seemed like a great time to reflect on past movies and the scenes that stick out. I will leave most of the reflection to you but join me in reminiscing, and then if you feel so inclined, read on about how this connects to working with teenagers below my list. In my mind, they are really all equally good scenes even if all of the movies are not equally good movies. Just a warning, there are spoilers ahead, so read with caution if you haven’t seen Star Wars!

 

The top 25 Star Wars Movies Scenes, in my opinion and not in any particular order.
  1. Luke’s Jedi training with Yoda. “Do or do not there is no try.”
  2. Luke shoots the Photon missiles into the core of the Death Star and it explodes
  3. Starkiller Base Explosion
  4. Darth Vader tells Luke, “I am your father.”
  5. Luke fights the Emperor (lightning fingers)
  6. Darth Vader dies
  7. Ray steals the Milenuum Falcon
  8. Han Solo is frozen in carbonite
  9. Luke fights and escapes from the Rancor
  10. Speeder chase on Endor
  11. C-3PO is crowned a god
  12. Lando betrays Luke, Han and Leia
  13. Obi-Wan is killed
  14. Rathtars on the loose
  15. Opening scene in Force Awakens when we meet Kylo Ren
  16. Bar scene looking for a ride to Alderaan and first meeting of Han Solo
  17. Luke’s finds his Aunt and Uncle dead
  18. Anakin Pod racing
  19. Luke sleeps in the Wampa on the frozen planet
  20. Tripping up the AT-AT’s on Hoth
  21. Anakin finds out his mother is dead
  22. Luke sneaks into Jabba the Hutt’s lair to rescue Han and Leia
  23. Luke, Han and Leia escape from Jabba’s barge and the Sarlacc
  24. Light Saber training with the blast shield down
  25. Luke sees the visions of Obi-Wan, his father and Yoda

If you are not a Star Wars fan, that is totally fine. For me, this was a fun exercise in remembering back over the movies and thinking about the scenes and why they might be memorable or significant.

I have been listening to Don Miller’s Story Brand podcast a lot lately. It is focused on marketing principles and those principles are drawn out of the art of storytelling, something Hollywood movies are often very good at. The amazing thing is there is life application in this process as well. I encourage you to download his free ebook on the full 7-part framework and how to tell a story. But if you just want a quick idea to of how to use this with a teenager, let me give you a couple of suggestions.

First, realize that teenagers are closer to the beginning of their story than the end or the middle. This perspective helps us as adults remember that they are still in the development and learning stages and that if we can coach them through this process they, most of the time, will learn to navigate life well.

Secondly, we all need a guide. It is really amazing how many guides Luke has from Obi-Wan to Yoda to Han Solo at times. For teenagers, they need more than one guide, and they need for those people to be willing to allow them to fail and then walk with them through that failure. This way they learn that life is not always easy and that they can overcome the difficulties if they choose to engage the right skills and resources.

Finally, recognize that there is a bigger picture going on. It’s not only about what is happening right now. There is a destination and having a clear vision for what that is helps you prioritize what’s happening right now in order to be able to arrive where you want to go. If a teenager gets too distracted by the now, they not only lose sight of the future, but all too often they give up the future they could have had for something satisfying in the moment.

How would you apply these principles and others that may be related to coaching a teen through the adolescent years to set them up for success? Let us know!
Ricky Lewis is our Executive Director and has been with us since the beginning. As a father of 4, he seeks to help parents and their kids Live Life Better.