Outside my office window is a giant but very cold-bare crape myrtle. The birds peer into my window as they huddle almost as one life-form on its branches. That tree which was once their hiding place, security from predators, and shelter from the rain, has become unable to do its job any more. The birds don’t wonder like I use to as a kid; is that tree ever going to have leaves again or is it dead?
Even now as an adult and though I know better, the tree appears as though it is lifeless, just not thriving, or for a better word, languishing. Once it had such vibrancy and purpose as it housed the birds and was admired constantly last spring, summer, and a tad of autumn from my office. I can’t help but see a parallel between that languishing tree and tweens; those kids I love so much. Tween’s find it hard many times to share what hurts, so they often hide or try to under their pretend smiles. Nature has so often, the answers to most of life’s questions. I love how Jesus built the lessons he wanted people to grasp about life and the state of our souls, all around nature. How many of those parables do just that? They make us to wonder about ourselves and seek out those answers.
Anyway, many tween’s are like that tree outside my window. I believe many are not thriving because the place where they live has parents that are doing the same languishing. Today’s mental health issue is not depression or anxiety or at least at clinical levels, but is something called languishing; a failure to thrive.* How can a tween become so utterly hopeless and lose their vitality? What could life do to their child hearts?
Could it be perhaps the place where the tween lives has parents that have emotional and mental weariness and inability to delight in LIFE itself?* Perhaps the marriage got lost in the shuffle of kids and jobs. Dead marriages = dead families when God is not the center of it. When kids live day to day in households that do not raise their kids to embrace God’s answers, plans, perfect provision, and protection, those kids walk like walking dead and many begin to simply give up the joy and happiness they once communicated. By the time they are ready to leave the nest, they can’t wait to spread those eager but pained wings. They leave but they too have ‘caught’ the languishing disease. What to do? The only hope and only vitality that is solid is a life inside of Jesus Christ with His Spirit inside directing their minds and their lives on a daily basis.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV
*“Author and writer, Gordon Mackenzie tells how he went to a kindergarten class and asked them “Who is an artist?” Every hand shot up. This deceases to half the class by third grade and is almost nonexistent by the time those same children turn 12 (tween’s). When we give up on our growth and life’s purpose, we languish.” What say you?
*In Touch Magazine January 2014 pages 39-41