Hey, I’m just a kid! I didn’t ask for this responsibility and I don’t even know how to handle it! “Regular” teenagers don’t have to do this! My cousins who are stateside don’t have to take on these kinds of adult responsibilities! I’m not the one who chose to be in the military, you did…and now you’re expecting me to do what?!? I’m not prepared for this.
Do you ever feel this way? One of your parents is on deployment and you have to be the “other” adult in the family. Your parent’s rank makes them and others expect more from you than from your peers. You have to move at the drop of a hat and handle it like an adult, when really, you just want to throw a fit along with your younger brother! He can kick and scream, but not you; you have to be the example. It’s not fair, but you don’t have a choice. You’re overwhelmed, and you don’t know how to handle it.
I sat on the edge of our concrete patio. It was a hot day, but the little boy beside me was shivering uncontrollably. His t-shirt and shorts were soaked and his skinny little legs were a mottled blue above his tiny cowboy boots. I was 10 years old, he was 6. That beautiful summer day that had just been filled with laughter and teasing was now filled with an eerie silence as the far away whine of sirens drew nearer.
The morning had started with my mom, my 5 siblings and me doing chores. The boys were weeding the garden and we girls were hanging out laundry. Our back yard overlooked our horse pasture, with a far fringe of trees in the background. Three boys came around the side of the house. Scottie was my age and his two friends were younger. They ran up to my younger brother and asked if he could go fishing with them at the gravel pit back behind the trees at the edge of our property. He asked my mom, even though he knew the answer would be, “Not until your chores are done.”
The three boys ran down the lane and we all went back to our chores. About 30 minutes later we heard the littlest boy screaming at the top of his lungs and running as fast as those little cowboy boots would carry him.
We all ran to him. They had found an old door down by the gravel pit and thought they would use it as a raft for the day of fishing. They got on, but as they used their hands to paddle, it started to tip and the boy’s brother fell off into the deep water. Scottie grabbed him by the hair, but he sank and they could not find him.
My mom yelled at me to stay with the little boy and watch him. Everyone else ran down to the gravel pit. I looked over at this tiny little boy. I had no idea what to do. What do you say? We just sat there. As I look back now, I think, why didn’t I get a blanket and wrap him in it? Why didn’t I put my arm around him and comfort him? But I was 10 and I was in no way prepared to handle this situation. It was beyond my reasoning and beyond my maturity. By default, I was placed into an adult situation that I had no skills to handle. All I could do was sit, petrified, staring straight ahead.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations far beyond our maturity level or skill sets. We do not choose to be in this situation. We end up there by default. Whether it is having to step into the role of a missing parent, having to take on huge responsibilities when a parent is injured, or one of many other situations, it is easy for us to become overwhelmed and not know how to handle things.
In our Bible story today, we read about a boy who becomes king at eight years old. Talk about responsibility beyond his maturity level! As you read Josiah’s story, notice the times he had to make a choice. Think about what you were like at his age and how you might have responded to the situations he found himself in. Maybe what’s going on in your life feels a lot like this.. Does it seem fair? Do you agree with the choices he made?
Dear Jesus, I am sometimes overwhelmed everything going on in my life. It sometimes seems like people or just life want me to have superpowers. There is just so much going on! I know that you are there and I am trying to trust that you are working your will in my life. Thank you for your promise to give me wisdom throughout all this stuff. I want to follow Josiah’s example and make wise choices, even when it is hard. Please, help me to do that. Give me your courage and peace every day. Amen.
Josiah was king of Judah. Check out where that is in the ancient world.
So finding out what God has to say and acting with that wisdom in our hearts is really key to navigating through these overwhelming times. It’s funny how wisdom has always been valued. It’s not cultural or even generational. Wisdom is ingrained into humanity. So much so that we even associate the teeth that grow in around age 20 to be somehow injected with additional wisdom! That’s where we get the term “wisdom teeth.” So why do we remove them? Lol.
So you know what is the oldest recorded case of wisdom teeth? Read about it here and be wiser!
When you get into a situation this week that seems overwhelming, ask God for wisdom in handling it. Maybe there’s a situation you have been in before and you know it’s about to happen again. If that’s the case, take some time the night before to pray and seek God’s guidance for how to deal with it all. Then, the each day this week, write down each time when you are feeling overwhelmed, and when God brings you new wisdom and peace. At the end of each day, think back over the day and spend some time thanking and praising God for his loving presence in your life. And don’t let it stop with this one week! Learning to hear God’s guidance and act on it can take lots of practice but it is WORTH it!
For some insight into how stress affects you, take a look at this quiz:
After you have taken the quiz, come up with at least one way for each of the 5 sections where you can improve your lifestyle habits or relieve a pressure, then talk with your family about this. If you need, talk to a youth leader or chaplain first to help you figure out how to talk to your family about your needs and overwhelming responsibilities. Remember, ask God for wisdom and he will give it to you.
Proverbs 1:2-10, 2:1-8 - The book of Proverbs is full of good advice on how to make decisions when you feel you are in over your head!
1 Timothy 4:12 - Even though you are young, you can still be an example to others by what you say, what you do, and your attitude.
1 John 2:12-14 - God doesn’t just have instructions for adults; in fact he says the you, as a young person, have defeated the Evil One and that you are strong! So have confidence and be encouraged!
James 1:5 - You don’t have to know how to handle every situation; in fact, God doesn’t EXPECT you to know how to handle everything! He promises to give you wisdom if you will just ask for it!
Watch this music video called Courage by Justin Hines. As you watch it, think of situations you are responsible for that you need courage to face . Remember to ask God for the wisdom and the courage to face them.
This video is from the movie Morning Glory. Do you ever feel like Becky on her first morning as producer for a morning show?
Learning to tie your shoe can be a little overwhelming at first, but this little girl is schooling the rest of us (also note the little brother scooting on the floor in the background).