A week or two ago I dropped my daughter off somewhere and drove home, alone in the car. She loves music, so the radio is always on when she’s with me. I confess I’m terrible at remembering the names of songs and the names of music artists. I have a few songs I like and that’s enough. I really don’t care who the famous singers are and what’s going on in their messed up lives (the same goes for Hollywood) but I love my daughter so we listen together.
Sometimes I leave the radio on when she gets out; sometimes I turn it off and enjoy the quiet. On this particular day I left it on but turned it down. As I turned down my street a song came on which caught my attention. I turned it up a little so I could be certain to understand the lyrics.
I was shocked. The song was openly saying “Come on, kids!” and inviting them to the lifestyle that was called, “love in America,” consisting of “drugs, sex, alcohol, rock and roll.” What shocked me about it was the bold, open call to kids to come join in this “party” – a completely self-destructive lifestyle that was being touted as normal, appropriate, fun and natural. Something about the use of the word “kids” really got to me.
How is it that we have these counter-cultures living harmoniously side by side in our society? We have generations of research that give us lists of simple things we can do to keep our kids healthy – keep them OUT of the destructive lifestyle described above – and give them the best possible shot at a productive, happy life. This information and research doesn’t just come from religious channels, it comes from researchers across the board. And we care. I really believe that most parents care and want their children to stay out of the muck.
Then we turn on the radio and get blasted with messages that are in opposition to everything we want for them.
I’m not sure why those few minutes alone in the car with the radio on impressed me so much, but I’ve thought a lot about it. It was an interesting look at what I’m up against. The battle for our youth is most definitely on.
Fast forward to yesterday.
Instead of our usual church meetings we attended something called Stake Conference, a meeting when several congregations in a geographical area join together to worship. The youth (kids aged 12-18) had been asked to sing a song they’ve learned this year so during the meeting I watched a large group of kids stand up and walk to the front of the large hall in which we were assembled.
I stopped counting at 200. There were a lot of them, and their youth leaders stood and joined them as well.
Then they started singing. Young men in white shirts and ties. Young women in beautiful dresses, clothes that actually covered their bodies.
They sang about what they believe in. They sang about standing strong, being true, about living lives that are “chaste, virtuous, benevolent, doing good to all men.” They sang about their commitment to be true in a world of filth, to seek that which is praiseworthy. One line rang in my ears, “There is no room for darkness in our lives.”
It was beautiful. It was powerful. The hall rang with the beauty of their testimony. I sat there with tears in my eyes, grateful that two of my children were among them, whispering a silent prayer that they could feel it too. My heart swelled with determination.
And then I thought of that song from a couple of weeks ago and I wished that the whole world could see what I was seeing, hear what I was hearing. Before me stood evidence that there is a better way to live. Before me stood evidence that it is possible to live a clean, pure, good, happy life as teenagers in today’s world. Before me stood evidence that it can be done. Before me stood proof of just how good it feels and how great it looks to live right. In the strength of the Lord we can find power to live this way.
I love my kids so much. I love their friends. I’m still on the early end of these years as a mother, but I’ve certainly had some tastes of the ups and downs of raising teenagers. They get a bad rap, and sometimes they deserve it, but often they don’t. They’re better than we think they are. They’re trying harder than they let on. They do want to please us, they do want to do what is right. I am committed. We are committed. The battle for our youth is on, and with God’s help we’ll win.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” -Philippians 4:13