“In life’s transitions, the bridge from the known to the unknown may seem long and unstable. Trust God. He is steady. He has the map.” Melissa Fagan 🙂
“Our teens are… ~ in a state of radical transition. When a person is in a state of transition ~ things in their external world are changing while their inner world of thoughts, feelings, and desires are in a state of disequilibrium ~ a person responds differently in different situations.” p.129
This is a quote from the first page of Chapter 8 in the “5 Love Languages of Teenagers” by Gary Chapman. The Chapter is about how to discover a teen’s love language. Well, apparently, I lead our group astray, because I thought we already did this! We had our teens fill out the questionnaire at the back of the book. It looks like the author had a reason for putting it at the back and not the front. Determining our teen’s love language is not quite as easy as filling in a form.
Guess why? Not because they don’t want to fill it out or that they truly like or dislike almost all of the ways they can receive love BUT because they might answer it differently depending on the day or even the moment!
That takes us back to the quote. Radical transition and disequilibrium is a reality for our teens. And it can cause them to react differently. The author talks about 3 different areas that are unique to a teenager’s transition:
fluctuating moods, thoughts and desires
I have been wrestling all week with how and what to write about all of these thoughts. What to share and what not to share. I have several examples of teen reactions relating to fluctuating moods, emerging independence and developing self-identity. If you are parenting a teenager, you can share some too. Or remember it from your own teen years. But what God has put on my heart to reflect on today is the word transition. It conjures up a lot of feelings in me and is helping me identify with my teenagers.
A few years ago, I kept losing weight (I know…nobody wants to hear this as a problem) and suffering from nausea and IBS. I had a lot of testing done. Two moves later, I was diagnosed with transitional anxiety! I didn’t want to accept it at first. How could I be a successful Navy wife if I can’t manage transition? But that is my ego speaking and resisting. Fulfilling God’s purpose for me has nothing to do with my “success”. I am happy to say that currently I am not suffering from transitional anxiety and (most days) I am not discouraged by the 35 pounds have gained.
So… that was my first thought at the idea of radical transition. As I began to write about it, I googled the word. And here is something I find ironic…. the first definition I found for transition had to do with writing… and as I read it, I realized it is one of my biggest struggles and it may be my WEAKNESS… my challenge that I often ignore. Here is the part of the definition from wikipedia:
Transitions are “bridges” that “carry a reader from section to section.” Transitions guide a reader through steps of logic, increments of time, or through physical space. Transitions “…connect words and ideas so that your readers don’t have to do the mental work for you.”
Ummm… yes! That is important stuff! And to you, my readers, I apologize for my stream of consciousness style. My lack of bridges and the extra mental work it requires of you!
But perhaps you have noticed that loving a teenager requires extra mental work! Precisely because they are in the midst of transition and haven’t found their way to what lies on the other side of the bridge. And that land is a bit of an unknown. And we don’t know exactly what the “land” on the other side looks like and neither do they! But the good news is: God does!
I love the visual of a bridge. I often take pictures of bridges (okay… I often take pictures of lots of things). But they are beautiful and symbolic. People pay extra money for a bridge view. It is a good view. But sometimes when I’m driving over a bridge, I am fearful. At times it is just a twinge and at others it is more intense. I completely trust my husband’s driving. Even if he is on the phone or driving with his knees … I’m serious… I figure if he can land a jet on an aircraft carrier at night, he can handle driving.
Except on a bridge.
My brain processes it differently. Why would I stop trusting? Why do I let fear get a foothold when I am on a bridge — transitioning from one side to the other? Could it be related to the transition? One thing I know for sure, the higher the bridge and the less I can see leads to a harder experience. With fear and without trust.
Here are a few of my favorite places and bridges:
my hometown of Pittsburgh. 3 rivers and lots of bridges.
Golden gate. one of my favorites. and lots of great memories of the early years of marriage.
bridges over sand dunes. i love this on in the Navy base at Damneck, VA Beach. I also love pics of my kids from behind.
The Memphis bridge! Over the mighty Mississippi. In the town my kids call home.
rickety bridges that I had to put on my “adventure pants” for in Costa Rica.
Pittsburgh. where the rivers meet. We had our wedding reception.
suspended rain forest bridge. I was actually not afraid. I was on a high from conquering my zip-lining fear.
bridges and windows are favorites of mine.
people with bridges are fun too
me and my honey visiting our old stomping ground, 20 years later.
seaside on vacation
As I pulled out the photos, I prayed about all of this and here is what became clear:
“In life’s transitions, the bridge from the known to the unknown may seem long and unstable. Trust God. He is steady. He has the map.”
This picture in particular reminds me of being a parent and standing near by as our kid’s navigate the transition called “teenager” ~ the bridge between child and adult.
To pray for this kind of trust, I turned to one of my favorite resources. The Moms in Prayer website. I identified what part of God’s character I truly need to trust in transition.
Try praying these for yourself and for your teens.
Scripture Prayers for our teens in transition
God is the Master Planner
Show __________Your ways, O Lord, teach __________ Your paths, guide him/her in Your truth and teach __________, for You are __________’s God and Savior, may _________’s hope be in You all day long. From Psalm 25:4-5
God is Immutable
May _______ put his/her hope and trust in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever. From Hebrews 13:8
God is Faithful
Let_________ know that no temptation has seized him/her except what is common to man. And You, God, are faithful; You will not let _________ be tempted beyond what he/she can bear. But when__________ is tempted, You will also provide a way out so that _________ can stand up under it. From I Corinthians 10:13
God is our Guide
Lord, guide _______ in what is right and teach him/her Your way. From Psalm 25:9
A lot of our teenager’s behavior is influenced by this radical transition.
It may be challenging but it is normal.
It is what I call TTB:
Typical Teen Behavior
Giving it a name helps me, on the spot, to have perspective and LET IT GO!
Here’s an example: I like to plan ahead and in general, my teen does too. But lots of teen social get togethers require a zillion group texts and last minute modifications. So when my daughter comes to me and says, “Could you please drive me and 3 friends to the movies? And we need to leave in 1 minute?” Instead of getting all uptight, I can simply answer yes or no and let go of the “why didn’t you plan ahead lecture” because I know it is TTB and it will pass with the season.
My teen has also started to identify some TMB…. you guessed it… Typical Mom Behavior. It helps her to Let Go of some of the areas that frustrate her. Instead of thinking “You are the only mean Mom that does this!” She can realize that she is not alone. And although she may not like it, we are doing our Mom-thing and it is our job!
Back to the chapter….
So the answer to finding your teens love language was NOT: ask them or have them take the test. Here is what Gary Chapman suggests:
The three-step approach to finding your teens primary Love Language:
- ask questions
- make observations
A video of my class presentation “rough draft” is available in our Facebook group:
Transitions and Bridges by Melissa Fagan from the kitchen table
Although these videos aren’t perfect, they are real and I have received positive feedback, so I will continue to explore this area.
I continue to feel lead by God to share in new ways. And this blog post lead to me first original quote. (on the golden gate bridge photo)
I approach this with humility and hope that it is not perceived as self-promotion. I am open to feedback. Please comment below or contact me.
P.S. After Naomi posted about walking the bridge in the fog, I thought I would post this fog photo from last week: