I am officially old and boring. I have a very exciting routine. Every morning after dragging myself out of bed (while wondering if it is really morning already) I make a cup of coffee and begin reading the morning paper. A few days ago one article in particular caught my eye. the article was entitled “Study: Teens just as stressed as adults.” That caught my attention. I made several assumptions before reading it. I thought to myself “What in the world do teens have to stress about?” Then of course I began thinking of all of the stresses of being a teenager such as boyfriend/girlfriend drama, homework, sports schedules, and of course parents. This article however, was a little more serious in nature than I assumed it would be.
The American Psychological Association spent a great deal of time studying the amount of stress that many teens are facing today. as a matter of fact, they not only point out that our teens are stressed, they claim that our teens are more stressed than adults. The average teen reports that their stress level is at a 5.8 where as most adults range at 5.1. This peaked my interest slightly more. Then the article began to identify what the research says is to blame for the stress level of the teens. What is to blame? Parents. Parents are to blame.
The research shows that teens today have the normal teen stresses like I mentioned above along with many other “normal stresses” for teenagers. However the recent increase in teen stress can largely be attributed to the parents. More and more teens begin to feel as though they are taking on the stress of mom and dad. When mom and dad fight, the teens feel the stress. When mom and dad complain that money is running too low, teens feel the stress. When mom and dad worry about politics, teens feel the stress. When mom and dad take out their stress on the kids, obviously the teens feel that as well.
Some of you are reading this and thinking, “Duh! I could have told you all of this.” Maybe you could have. I am not shocked by the fact that these things contribute to stress. It did shock me that our teens who typically do not have to work to provide, and live in their parents homes, and attend school are significantly more stressed than their parents. The high teen stress levels obviously are not helping in a positive way with the high teen suicide rate in recent years. While I am not a researcher, nor psychologist, nor a licensed counselor, allow me to ask one question for our christian homes. Do these statistics and research reflect negatively upon our faith?
Jesus told those who would listen to Him in that great sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:25-30 (ESV) 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Notice the command. “Do not be anxious about your life” This is not just a wise statement, or suggestion. It is a command. When you and I as Christians spend the better part of our life stressed out and worried about so many things, it really is an indication of our lack of faith. Jesus promised that all who seek Him first will have all the things that they need (Matthew 6:33.)
I am not saying that we live in a world in which it is easy to be care free. quite the opposite! I am married, have children, have a job, and currently have 3 family members and friends in the hospital for various reasons. We live in a high stress world. Let me ask you to consider with me for just a moment how much of an impact it would have on all of our friends and family if they saw us in stressful situations, yet we did not seem stressed? Would it be weird? Would it stand out? Would it be… a light in the world?
There are so many reasons for us to stress. There are many more reasons to be joyful. Phil 4:8 tells us to think on the good things. Parents, how would it impact your children if instead of them hearing you talk about the concerns over money they heard you talk about how God will provide? How will it impact your children if instead of hearing you worry about the future, they hear you talk about heaven? How will it impact your children if instead of expressing fear, concern, and anxiety, you showed them that we can have confidence because of Jesus? How will it impact your children if they see their parents concerning themselves more with eternity than they do the temporary things of this life?
I realize that those words are much easier to write or read, than they are to practice. However, they are not impossible. We have a great God. We have a Savior that has paid the penalty for our sins. We have a God who has promised to provide for His children. We have a God who has established a support system for His children (the church.) We have a God that is preparing us an eternal home. We have a God that has blessed us with many earthly things to go along with the spiritual abundance. Let us challenge ourselves this week, to focus more on God and His word, making an effort to eliminate some unnecessary stress from our lives. Do it for you, do it for your sanity, do it for your spouse, do it for your children.
Phil 4:7- And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians (ESV)