The Space of Life Between

John Keats once wrote the following:

“The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy.  But there is a space of life between in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted.”

This is the space of life I find compelling–the space I’ve made it my life’s work to speak into.  Most adults complain about teenagers, and many of their complaints are valid.  Few people know better than high school teachers how whiny, ungrateful, and annoying teens can be.  But if you take a moment to really understand where teens are coming from, you can see that these undesirable qualities come from deep insecurities and fears about the future.  They are coming to terms with a harsh and frightening world, and they know that soon they will have to face that world on their own.  Teens’ frustrating attributes arise from a lack of wisdom and maturity, and those are reasons for us to reach out to teens, not shun them or write them off.  The beautiful thing about teenagers is that most of them have not yet adopted the hard-edged cynicism of the world.  They are desperately seeking, searching for meaning, because their lives are “in a ferment.”  Sometimes they externalize their inner chaos; sometimes they internalize it.  They need compassion.  They need to have truth spoken into their lives.  They need people to come alongside them, put a hand of compassion on their shoulder and point the way toward the light.  They need adults they can trust, who are willing to look past their foolishness and see the men and women they can become.

They need love.  Lots and lots of love.


5 thoughts on “The Space of Life Between

  1. So well put! Out side of being a housemom, I haven’t worked much with teenagers until these past few months and honestly, it is so refreshing! Yes, they have a lot of drama, but a passion and zeal for their lives that I have lost in the doldrums of “adulthood”. Yet then I look back at my own life, and in every season I was in, God put a godly Christian woman in my circle to help guide me. It is such an honor (and responsibility) for that to come full circle now.

    • I know; I want SO much to be “that person” in the lives of as many teens as possible; I want them to feel that someone is trying to understand them. Have fun working with your teens! Aren’t they super fun?? I just love my kids.

  2. I have always been the kind of person who would control his behavior, to the point where it could get frustrating. But i remember my teenage, i once threw a chair at my room’s wall while my mother and sisters sat outside, i remember now, it happened because i felt misunderstood.

    Very insightful post from you.

    • A lot of our “acting out” as teenagers happens because of exactly what you describe: feeling misunderstood. We all need to feel that someone is trying to understand and trying to help us rather than work against us. Thank you for reading!

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