One normal afternoon at CareNet Pregnancy Center changed my life. I was working diligently on something when our receptionist came in and asked me if I could visit with a family who had come in. I walked up front and there stood four precious adults. Both the dad and the granddad were farmers and “guys-guys”…tall and strong from doing what the Lord had called them to do. The mom and the grandmother were absolutely adorable and I fell in love with all of them immediately. All four were there looking for a life preserver. The younger couple had a teenage daughter that was literally being pulled under, actively drowning, in her culture. The father was an active, well-known, and respected man in their small community and their daughter had nude photos of herself shared via a cell phone by the young man she was dating, a young man her family did not approve of. The daughter had also recently found out she was pregnant. This family needed a lifeguard…and they need one now. I will never forget the look in that hurting daddy’s eyes as he said, “Can you help us?” I replied, “If you can get her here, we will help her, because He will be here waiting.”
A few days passed and in came the receptionist again. This time, her eyes were as big as saucers as she said, “We need you up front.” When I walked into the waiting room, I saw the most beautiful young woman sobbing in a chair and looked up to see that sweet daddy with tears streaming down his face and he said, “You said if we got her here, you would help us.” Turns out that sweet, desperate daddy had literally picked up his half-drowned daughter out of the floor of her closet, loaded her up and brought her to “shore” so to speak.
How did they get here? I could almost read his mind from one parent’s heart to another…I could see images of her birth, of her running through fields of flowers and rushing to be first in line for the slide. I could see her in dance recitals and being baptized. I could see her playing sports and receiving awards at school. I could see her potential…I could see her warm and dry, skipping along the beach. But I could also see her brokenness, I saw her literally drenched in shame, regret, and poor choices to find her place in heavy seas with a society that has an undertow that words cannot describe. I saw them.
But I saw God, too.
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:37-41
Raising teens in a culture that is against you can feel nothing short of drowning. I have watched too many families fight to simply keep their heads above water. We worship the God whom the winds and the waves obey. If we listen for Him and obey His Word, we can learn to swim in these rough waters.
I am a bystander on a beachfront…I have seen many teenagers try to swim out in some pretty high seas. I have seen some of them bitten by the more stealthy enemies who thrive in the chaos of the current. I have seen some of them taken down by very large squalls that can take out dozens of unsuspecting teens at once. And I have seen a few hang a perfect ten as they literally surf right over the top of it.
I feel like it is the Lord’s desire for all of us, especially parents, to simply say to those heading into the water, “Hey, not trying to butt in or steal your fun, but it seems to work best for the guys who…” or “You know, I’ve not yet seen a young man successfully swim straight into that twenty-foot wave and make it out unscathed.”
Rescue might be the life preserver that some parents are looking for, that is certainly my prayer.
See you on the beach,
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Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture is available now at www.candygibbs.com and Amaz
Candy Gibbs is the Executive Director at CareNet Pregnancy Centers in Amarillo, Texas. She loves sharing insight and encouragement with parents for raising young people to live lives of purpose in a difficult culture.
With a degree in Psychology from West Texas A&M University, Candy has served as the national co-chair for the Campaign for LIfe in America. She is a national speaker, host of “The Truth of the Matter” radio program, and the author of two curriculum-based works, Pearls and Chosen.
Candy and her husband, Brian, reside in Amarillo, Texas, along with their daughter Madi and son Jake. Her adult son Tanner and daughter-in-law, Whitney, live in Montana while serving in the US Air Force. Candy has two precious grandchildren Bracen and Bayler.