I read recently that the three primary pursuits of young people are pleasure, loyalty, and adventure.
I assert these are perhaps the deepest longings for adults as well.
We want to feel good, we want someone to stand beside us, and we want to avoid boredom. In themselves, they're not bad goals, not even lofty or unhealthy.
But if left unfulfilled, we may become even more desperate to attain them, and desperation is usually the root of unhealth.
And so, as the single mom of two boys, I add this to my mental checklist of things to consider.
Testosterone is such a foreign entity to me, and yet it is a far greater presence in our home than the estrogen counterpart. And I must somehow aim to channel these longings of theirs in ways that will gird them in strength, equip them to be faithful and true, and show them that what they want most is here: they don't have to go looking somewhere else, somewhere that could lead them entirely off course.
So, I begin with adventure. That seems the easiest of the three. I choose to plan fun for the three of us, to show them that this trio is a fun place to belong. We can have fun, they're welcome to invite others to join us as they grow older, but they don't need to look very far to find fun, laughter, and adventure. It lives in our home.
I can say yes until there's a reason to say no. Sure, kiddo, give it a shot. If you think you can do it, give it a go. And perhaps this leaning toward yes will encourage them to someday answer the still, small voice that prompts them to do something great with their lives, something bigger than them, something that started as an idea. The courage to say yes.
So, then I look at loyalty. They're hungry for someone to stand by them, no matter what. Young people who do not find this in their homes - in the inner city but also in affluent suburbs - find themselves instead looking for lasting affinity in other circles.
They could spend their lives spinning from one anchor to another, looking for anything to take root in the name of loyalty.
And so today, I can aim to show them what loyalty looks like. Model it. Show them, I am always here when you need me, but you do not always need me. There is a balance between loyalty and dependence, and it can be found - even if you must find it anew each day.
I have heard that a child who has lost a parent needs only one thing to grow into fulfilled adulthood: just one person to love them unconditionally, no matter what. This is loyalty. And by God's grace, my children have this in spades, and not just from their mother.
And then, that last one: pleasure. They're going to look for it, for what feels good, what matters most and offers the greatest high on any level.
And so maybe my task is to show them that pleasure isn't the greatest good. That other things matter more, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Pleasure didn't make the list.
And if that means he doesn't get a popsicle with every meal, well, then maybe that's the seed of the root of contentment.
If I wait until later to teach these things, I might miss my window. They might start looking before they even know what they're hungry for.
Okay, guys. Let's find it. Let's start right here.