Absalom and your teenager

Absalom was a troubled young man. He did not present himself as troubled, but he was. He projected power; he manipulated his father, the king. He was arrogant. He was vengeful, taking the life of his brother in payment for the honor of his sister. He had a flare for the dramatic. He had 50 men who ran ahead of him to announce his going and coming. He challenged his father’s leadership by publicly proclaiming that life would be better for all if only he were king.

But the real Absalom was not what he appeared to be. Inside he was hurting. He relied on subversion and raw intimidation to achieve what he wanted. He had no answer for the pain in his heart. He had no comfort for the lack of relationship with his father, King David. He had no confidence in the loving-kindness of God; rather, he was convinced he had to make his own way in this world. So Absalom used the images of power, good looks, arrogance, and popularity to secure what he thought he wanted. But with all this, he was weak and lonely, without solace and joy.

Teenagers are often like Absalom. They present an image of arrogance and defiance. Yet inside they are hurting. Too often, parents react only to the projected image. They, like Absalom’s father, David, fail to see that what is needed is relationship with God. So parents respond to teenagers with hurt. They are intimidated and fearful—or angry.  Parents, forget that God is bigger than their troubled, hurting teenager. An angry teen is at odds with the God of heaven, and therefore lives with a troubled, unsettled spirit—but he often doesn’t know why.

Think about your teenagers. Often, just beneath the surface of their angry, defiant demeanor is a sea of uncertainty and hurt. They perceive something in their lives to be unjust, and take aim at the first target available—usually parents. Do not misunderstand—I am not excusing this behavior—just attempting to understand it.

If you are confronted with anger, arrogance and intimidation, reach out in the power of God. Seek God’s help in prayer—pray for a  heart of compassion. Love him or her sacrificially, showing Christ-like love and commitment. Return good for evil. You don’t have to engage in a shouting match. Often the image of defiance you see in your teen hides a deep hurt that only God can heal. Your teenager may be hurting because he believes he has lost your approval. Yes, your teen may be wrong, horribly wrong, and you must work to lead him along the right path. But more than anything, he needs the love of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. David failed to confront Absalom with God’s love. By ignoring the hurting heart of his son, David allowed a great final confrontation to occur. Absalom lost his life. David lost his son.

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