Confessions of a Recovering Teenager

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
654292_moods_4.jpgNow that the sunlight of middle age has burned off the haze of teenaged confusion, I see the specter of my past sins and humbly confess but a few of them to a mom and dad who astonishingly chose not to murder me. These are the earnest confessions of a recovering teenager.

CONFESSION: Please forgive the bland indifference with which I listened to stories about your past. I realize now that even the simplest of your recollections were a bequest of familial roots. You were teaching me who I was and where I came from. You were helping me discern my place in the grand design of a sovereign God. How I wish I could hear all those stories again with the inquisitiveness I should have once had; but there is no time for that now—an excuse I suspect will find its way into my “Confessions of a Recovering Middle-Ager” someday.

CONFESSION: Forgive me for wishing I had different parents, or at least wishing you were different people. I was deluded to believe the only profitable people on earth were people just like me. How wrong I was. I now see that an all-wise God graciously provided me with the ideal parentage. Please forgive my feelings of embarrassment when your world intersected with that of my peers. I see now that I should have been filled with pride that I had parents of character who had enough sense not to act like teenagers.

CONFESSION: Forgive me for whining about the chores you routinely assigned to me. Thank you for impinging upon my personal freedom and sense of entitlement by requiring me to contribute to the upkeep and development of the home in which I was a primary consumer (a virtual leech). By doing so against my persistent protests, you patiently instilled in me a sense of personal responsibility and a work ethic that undergirds my every earthly accomplishment to this day. You were laying a foundation for success. I failed to see that then. I see it now. And I humbly thank you for such an invaluable legacy.

CONFESSION: Forgive me for showing so little appreciation for all that you provided for us materially. Although money was tight, we ate well and every meal was made with attention and love. Although we dressed simply, you clothed me so that I never felt ashamed. While our house and furnishings were modest, you made our home a warm and tidy haven. Forgive me for taking all this for granted while focusing too much on what you could not provide. That was wrong.

CONFESSION: Forgive me for thinking you did not understand how to live life to the fullest. No one does, of course, and how wrong I was to think I did. But I now see in your marital fidelity, in the satisfaction you derived from hard work, in the prioritization of family life, and in your uncommon devotion to God, that you lived life with a vitality and joy of which most people can only dream. I hated being asked about my weekend experiences from peers fresh off a weekend of hell-raising. I now see that some of those quiet weekends spent at home as a family sprawled in front of a crackling fire, playing board games and listening to radio, romping around the backyard, and consuming home cooked meals together around a common table were nothing less than an exotic retreat—perhaps even a stroke of parental genius. Forgive me for taking all that for granted, and for too often wishing I was somewhere else. How wrong that was.

CONFESSION: Forgive me for defining love as unyielding affirmation. I see now that genuine parental love runs deeper than that. I now understand there were many issues in my life that demanded resistance, not affirmation. A young man rowing merrily along toward a dangerous waterfall does not need people cheering him on the riverbank. He needs someone to deliver a stern word of warning. As I drifted downstream toward disaster, you graciously conveyed messages of non-affirmational alarm. Thank you. And forgive me for wishing you cared less about me during those times. You did not adopt such a mindlessly affirming approach as to immunize yourself against disappointment. You loved me more than that. I have come to cherish the reality that your parental love ran deep enough that your heart could be broken by my folly. Thank you.

There were times I wish you had been harder on me—times I needed a kick in the seat and received something far less severe. Yet I confess now that I did not see then just how gracious you were to me despite my pride and foolishness—perhaps particularly at those times when I had the gall to tell you how life worked. You somehow loved me despite my innate ugliness. I am coming to realize how hard that was. Please forgive me and know how grateful I am to you both.

The fog is still lifting; and I suspect there is more to see, along with the many realizations space does not supply opportunity to express here. I particularly anticipate fresh insights as I am soon to take up the challenge of raising teenagers in my own home. I am sure they will stumble through the same fog I imperfectly negotiated at their age. I just pray that by steadfastly loving them as you have loved me, I will someday approximate in their estimation the esteem you now hold in mine.

Dan MillerDan Miller has served as senior pastor of Eden Baptist Church (Savage, MN) since 1989. He graduated from Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (Owatonna, MN) with a B.S. degree in 1984. His graduate degrees include an M.A. in History from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). He is nearing completion of D.Min. studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL). Dan is married to Beth, and the Lord has blessed them with four children.
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