Fear not the whirlwind will carry you hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the blight of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the gale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.
The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.
Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone a while may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heavens, His love will make thine,
Let no gloom dim your eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of your God and the blue of His sky.
The storm is your shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes you for safety within;
The tempest with Him passes into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sounds of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm.
You’re probably familiar with the term “eye of the storm”. Sometimes, in the middle of a fierce and powerful tropical cyclone, a natural phenomenon occurs in which calm weather is found in the middle of the storm…this tranquil region is called the “eye”.
Many of us will never encounter a tropical cyclone (especially those of us who live in the heart of the American Midwest), but we will encounter many “storms” in life just the same. Of course I am not referring to natural disasters, but emotional disasters…not catastrophic to the planet, but nonetheless quite catastrophic for its inhabitants.
There are myriads of emotional storms that can hit in life: dissolved friendships, distant marriages, deteriorating careers, and the list goes on. Today, I want to focus on one specific type of storm that is familiar to parents the world over: the storm of teenage emotions. Ask any parent of teenagers, and they will likely tell you that they have been through their share of storms while navigating through the teen years with their child. There’s a reason there are so many stereotypes about the “moody teenager”…because adolescents have a whole lot of emotions, and not a lot of practice managing them. They want parents less than ever, but in many ways they need them more than ever. The teenage years can be a tough season for the whole family, but they can be lived through gracefully with a little prep and a lot of patience.
Are you a mother of teens, or will be in the future? Let me give you some perspective about the storms that your teenager will inevitably send your way, and help you to be the” eye of the storm” that your son or daughter needs you to be. In order to be a safe space for your kiddo (and keep your own sanity) there are three things you need to understand about storms. The first thing you need to understand about storms is that:
Out of the south comes the storm, and out of the north the cold. – Job 37:9
Storms occur in various locations all across the globe. When a storm arises, it is never isolated to one individual. Rather, its effects are usually felt by most or all people in that locale…a collective disaster.
When your teen’s emotions are whipping up a storm, know that it is not personal:
- Likely, you are not failing as a mother.
- Probably, your teen’s attitude is a reflection of his/her inability to cope with their newfound feelings.
- Assuredly, you are not the only mom who has suddenly become the object of her teen’s disdain.
Once you take an objective look at your teen and stop making their storm about you, your eyes will be open to their needs…and allow you to get to the root of the problem.
- Is your teen storming because he/she woke up on the wrong side of the bed? It’s not personal…you’ve got an attitude problem on your hands. Train your teen to get his mind off of himself, and on to others. Service and selfishness can not long dwell in the same bosom. Lead by example with your own cheerful disposition. The world says, “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”…but the Christian lady turns frowns upside down. A wise mother invokes gladness in the home by her merry influence.
- Is your teen storming because he/she wishes to be independent? It’s not personal…you’ve got an authority problem on your hands. Re-evaluate his liberties as he grows, but don’t compromise family standards. A teenager, in the eyes of God and the law, is under the authority of his parents until adulthood (no matter how much he may balk at this fact). Impress upon your teen that independence is right around the corner, but in the meantime he is to obey Dad and Mom.
- Is your teen storming because he/she wants what “all their friends have”? It’s not personal…you’ve got a discontentment problem on your hands. Help your teen to focus on all that he does have, rather than that which he does not. Counting one’s blessings is not an archaic concept, but a worthy practice. You might have him write out all the many ways in which he is blessed, from the food on his table to the clothes on his back. It will be hard for him to argue with the facts.
Remember: your teen’s stormy behavior is not personal. Be the eye of the storm, the calm in the chaos.
The second thing you need to understand about storms is that:
Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble in my presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. – Jeremiah 5:22
Storms have boundaries. No storm wreaks its havoc upon the whole earth (with the notable exception of the flood in Noah’s day, of course). Travel far enough, and a storm will make way for sunny skies.
When your teen’s emotions are whipping up a storm, know that it is not permissible:
- You, as a parent, have both a right and a responsibility to set boundaries for your teen’s behavior.
- You owe it to your teen, yourself, and others, to stand as a shelter when storms do flare up.
- Your teen’s negativity can not permeate your soul and destroy your tranquility unless you let it.
Once you realize that you are capable of both handling and containing your teen’s storms, your eyes will be open to expect and accept the storm…and meet it head on without surprise but with a game plan.
- What will you do when your teen speaks disrespectfully to you? You can
get personally offended. You can revile back. You can throw your hands up and let it keep happening. Or, you can calmly and firmly assert that disrespect is not permissible. Don’t get mad, don’t get even, don’t give up. Use the power of the Word of God to convict your teen of the need for parental respect. Give him examples of appropriate ways that he may express his opinions to you in the future. Then let his previous coarse speech go in one ear and out the other, so no root of bitterness grows in your spirit towards your teenager.
- What will you do when your teen acts disobediently towards you? You can
get personally offended. You can revile back. You can throw your hands up and let it keep happening. Or, you can calmly and firmly assert that disobedience is not permissible. Don’t get mad, don’t get even, don’t give up. Show your teen, from a scriptural viewpoint, why his behavior is a detriment to his spirit and/or harms others. If his disobedience is towards a personal family standard as opposed to a moral wrong, train him to make an appeal to Dad and Mom about whatever it is he wishes to do in the future…and that he must accept “yes” or “no” with equal humility. Then let his previous misbehavior be forgiven and forgotten, as you will receive the same mercy from the Lord that you grant your teenager.
- What will you do when your teen acts distastefully towards you? You can
get personally offended. You can revile back. You can throw your hands up and let it keep happening. Or, you can calmly and firmly assert that distastefulness is not permissible. Don’t get mad, don’t get even, don’t give up. Familiarize your teen with examples of both wise and foolish people in the Bible (Proverbs is a great place to start!) and ask him to decide for himself which camp would more likely applaud his inappropriate actions. Lay down your expectations of the gentlemanly manner he will compose himself with in the future. Then let his previous crudeness be washed from your psyche, that your view not be tainted against your teenager.
Remember: your teen’s stormy behavior is not permissible. Be the eye of the storm, the calm in the chaos.
The third thing you need to understand about storms is that:
O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones. All your sons will be taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your sons will be great. – Isaiah 54:11-13
Storms are temporary. No doubt they can cause a lot of damage, but they never last forever. Eventually the rain stops pouring, the wind stops blowing, and all is still.
When your teen’s emotions are whipping up a storm, know that it is not perpetual:
- Your teen will more than likely mellow out the farther away he/she gets from puberty.
- Your teen’s time in the home is a relatively short 5-7 years.
- Your empty nest will one day serve as a restful reward from your labors.
Once you realize that the rough spot you are going through with your teen is only a short season, your eyes will be open to the finish line…and allow you to run the remainder of the course with diligence.
- Does your teen’s sulking and sourness seem to be a continual state of affairs? Remind yourself that it’s not perpetual…the blues will pass. It is probable that your teen will mature in his emotions as he ages. But what if he doesn’t? What if your teen chooses to be down in the dumps as an adult? Listen…you have a few short years left to train your teenager to cultivate a positive attitude, but after that, the choice is his. Whether or not he chooses to live out the values that you impressed upon him while he resided under your roof, you can rest easy knowing that you made every attempt to instill and emulate positivity. One day, the sulking and sourness you are dealing with daily will be only a memory. If not for him, for you!
- Does your teen’s back-talking and boundary-testing seem like it will never end? Remind yourself that it’s not perpetual…the strife will pass. It is probable that your teen will mature in his actions as he ages. But what if he doesn’t? What if your teen chooses to answer to no one as an adult? You have a little while longer to train your teenager to develop a due respect for authority, but after that, the choice is his. Whether or not he chooses to live out the values that you impressed upon him while he resided under your roof, you can rest easy knowing that you made every attempt to instill and emulate deference. One day, the back-talking and boundary-testing you are dealing with daily will be only a memory. If not for him, for you!
- Does your teen’s moaning and mumbling seem to drone on and on? Remind yourself that it’s not perpetual…the angst will pass. It is probable that your teen will mature in his gratitude as he ages. But what if he doesn’t? What if your teen chooses to feel entitled as an adult? You have a small window in which to train your teenager to grow a heart of contentment, but after that, the choice is his. Whether or not he chooses to live out the values that you impressed upon him while he resided under your roof, you can rest easy knowing that you made every attempt to instill and emulate thankfulness. One day, the moaning and mumbling you are dealing with daily will be only a memory. If not for him, for you!
Remember: your teen’s stormy behavior is not perpetual. Be the eye of the storm, the calm in the chaos.
A question every mother of teens ought to ask herself is this: “Will I be picked up and carried off by my teenager’s emotional torrents? Or will I be the eye of the storm that my son/daughter needs?“
We all know what our answer should be, but are we up to the challenge? In order to be the eye of the storm in your teenager’s life, you must understand and remember three things about storms:
- They are not personal. Remember that your teen’s storm is not about you.
- They are not permissible. Remember that your teen’s storm has boundaries.
- They are not perpetual. Remember that your teen’s storm will not last forever.
Be the eye of your teen’s storm. Be the calm in the chaos. The power of Christ in you will enable you to say to your teenager’s storm, “peace, be still”.
And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. – Matthew 7:25
For God’s glory,
Mrs. Dustin Bolks
Chaste Bolks is a church of Christ preacher’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.