The “teenage” idea is a relatively new concept. Only in the last 100 years or so has the term teenager even been somewhat comprehensible. That being said, our world is still at the forefront of this concept. Therefore, challenges will happen. We’re human after all! Give us a break (preferably one for teens and parents). Yes, there are a lot of kinks to work out, but there is hope. This hope is ancient, and fail-proof. It’s called emuna, and it’s one-size-fits-all.
Emuna, by definition, is faith in God. But on a deeper, though seemingly simpler, plane, it is belief in God. Simple belief. Profound belief. However, most importantly, belief that God IS.
In other words, emuna is belief that anything and everything comes from God. Everything. Sounds simple, right? Paradoxically, it is, yet, nothing could be more difficult.
It’s easy to walk down the street in the middle of a beautiful day, when you have no immediate problems, and think, “wow! Everything comes from You. You made it all, and I’m loving it.” But real, true emunah is the ability to recognize this fact after a death in the family; or watching a natural disaster on the news; or shuttering like a leaf in late August while watching CSPAN TV during election season. Many times, people like to view God as a “comfortable” Creator, One who is always doing nice things for us, comfortable things, understandable things; but this is not our God. The ways and practices of our God are almost completely enigmatic to us. Unbeknownst is the multi-faceted, completely complete Will of the One True God. Yet, one thing is for sure, all things come from Him.
You might be saying, “how can you say that!? You don’t know what I’ve been through! You don’t know the pain my family and I have endure!” These are the words of someone who has allowed the tragedy of this world to cloud the simple truth, deep within them, that everything is for the good because everything is from God. Painful things happen, but thank God we are not a people that are incapable of looking ahead into the future. May we be grateful to Him that we can stand the painful test of time in hope for a greater redemption than was ever fathomable. To sit back, and enjoy, even in the midst of terrible tribulation, the absolutely absolute God-hood of God!
So what does this mean for teenagers? How do we implement this tool of emuna into the relatively new concept of a mid-youth? Lead. By. Example. The teenage years can be some of the most confusing, disillusioning, and trying years of a persons’ life. If we cannot lead by example, then we will, in truth, throw the next generation to the wolves of society. If teenagers can’t learn from us how to have emunah, then they will suffer the weight of tribulation apparent in depression, identity crisis, suicide, lust, young parenthood, objectifying of genders, and the list can go on forever. Do these symptoms sound familiar? This is what the world looks like without emuna. This is a picture of a world void of belief that there is a higher purpose. This life was never meant to be lived without emuna. Our current situation as a creation is strong evidence of that.
So let’s bring back this concept, maybe not to change the whole world, but to change the world of our teens. They need it just like we did, do, and will need it. A pure and simple belief and faith in God, emuna, the prescription to end them all.
©M.S. O’nealThis article was written my M.S. O’neal. He is a college student at Sam Houston State University and regular contributor for Netiv / The Path on issues of teens and faith, etc.