The Student Guide is a frank, comprehensive resource for tweens. It discusses the changes that are happening as tweens proceed through adolescence including likeness and differences of males and females and a step by step guide through puberty.
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Created by God Student BookTweens, Faith, and Human Sexuality New Edition
By James H Ritchie
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2010 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.
Chapter OneChanges Happening
Jesus as a Teenager? First Century Family Travel Constant Change Name That Change Growing in Wisdom Families Change as You Change Belonging to God's Family
Jesus as a Teenager?—of course
Have you ever wondered what it was like for Jesus as a tween? Do you think he ever spent time daydreaming? What do you think he looked forward to when he was "all grown up"? What were the signals that helped him know he was maturing as a human being and as God's child?
We find insights about Jesus' childhood only in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 41-52. Here we see the story of Jesus, with his family, traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Each spring they would worship in the Temple there, joining friends and family in a meal that used special words, foods, and actions to remember how—many centuries earlier—God had delivered the people of Israel from Egyptian slavery.
But this year was different, one that had been anticipated by Jesus and his parents since he was born, twelve years before. According to Jewish tradition, young males at twelve were received into "adulthood" in the eyes of the worshiping community through a ceremony called a bar mitzvah (MITS-veh), which means "son of command" or "son of godly living." As such, Jesus would have new privileges such as worshiping with the men and new responsibilities for helping to keep the faith alive. He would also be expected to make wise choices. In many ways, this visit to Jerusalem and to the Temple would celebrate his growing up.
First Century Family Travel
No minivans with roof racks piled high and traveling in caravan for the families from Nazareth! More likely, the Jewish families going to Jerusalem from the tiny town about 65 miles to the north, walked with perhaps a donkey or two to carry a few possessions. And chances are they didn't walk in individual family groups. You can probably visualize the men walking and talking together, the women with the youngest children, and the older children running along between the two groups, playing games and shouting as they go. And no motels along the way! Travel to Jerusalem involved several nights of camping as they walked through the valleys and over the hills and mountains.
Finally, they arrive! Jerusalem is bustling with thousands of Passover pilgrims. Every day Jesus visits the Temple, listening eagerly as the teachers read and explain the meaning of Torah (God's Word or law for the people). He sees the sacrifices offered to God and participates in the bar mitzvah ceremony granting him the privileges and responsibilities of a Jewish adult.
But then the week is over, and the pilgrims begin leaving for their remote villages. Mary and Joseph gather their belongings, join the Nazareth group, and begin the long walk. Mary may wonder why Jesus isn't there to help pack up, but then likely thinks that since the bar mitzvah, Jesus is with his father and the other men. Maybe she smiles at the thought of her special son. And Joseph, with the other men, likely assumes that Jesus is traveling with his mother, just as he has always done. He may realize that despite the ceremony, Jesus is still a child in many ways and may be with the other children.
Evening comes, and at the campsite Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is not with either of them. They check throughout the entire caravan and realize with panic that their son is not with the group. Of course, they start the day's journey back to Jerusalem at the first light. Imagine your parents' reaction if this had happened to them!
For another three days they search the city. Jesus has now been missing as many as five days. The last remaining place to look is the Temple. Stunned, Mary and Joseph find him sitting at the feet of the teachers, listening carefully to all they had to say. So much to absorb!
How would he ever take it in? Faces full of amazement, the teachers listen to the questions and answers Jesus offers. And what relief for Mary and Joseph! Then those feelings may have turned to bewilderment and even a bit of anger. Why would Jesus do such a thing? Jesus must have seen the worry and fear, because he asks, "Didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?" sounding surprised that his parents didn't know where he would be.
The story ends with these words: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years" (getting wise and older), "and in divine and human favor" (growing in his relationships with God and with others) (Luke 2:52).
As Jesus traveled with his family to Jerusalem and back, he was also in the midst of his journey of adolescence (a-doh-LES-sens), the period of growth between childhood and adulthood. Like you, he was growing, wondering, testing, and discovering what it meant to be an adult. His body was changing in many ways—with new feelings and sensations. New muscles and new coordination were likely evident. Surely his interests began to change from those of a child. And while his family remained very important to him, he was also developing relationships outside his family. All this was very normal then, and it's normal for you now.
You may be twelve, or maybe you are nine, ten, eleven, or thirteen as you read this book. Think about how you have grown and changed in the past few years—in obvious ways that have caused others to comment and in minor ways that only you have noticed. Have you wondered, Am I supposed to be growing this fast? Should I be growing faster? How long is this going to continue? Why can't I look like everyone else? Do other kids feel as awkward as I do? Am I weird? Is this normal?
Normal is change. And normal change is specific to YOU. What we mean is that there is no exact timetable for change that all adolescents follow. As a pre-adolescent or an adolescent, you will be experiencing dramatic growth and change over the next several years—the noticeable and the unnoticeable. All that is perfectly normal, predictable, and even desirable. And it will be on your own timetable.
Stop and think: have you noticed changes in your energy level—one moment you're ready to run a marathon with energy to spare, and the next you're so tired you could fall asleep on your feet? What about sudden shifts in your emotions—you're laughing happily with your best friends when, without warning, you find yourself angry at them as though they were your worst enemies? Do you seem to have suddenly outgrown your clothes? And do you ask yourself, What are these changes in my body?
NOTE: The words you see printed in this kind of type are ones you can find in the glossary located in the back of the book. The words you might have difficulty pronouncing are accompanied by a pronunciation guide. Accent the capitalized syllable.
Name That Change
Think back two years. What kind of changes have you noticed in yourself? Below are some categories to help you identify some changes.
My Changing Mind: Things I think about or know now that I didn't think or know about.
My Changing Emotions: New or stronger emotions and ones I no longer have or that aren't as strong.
My Changing Faith: Differences in how I understand and connect with God and what I do about those understandings and differences.
My Changing Relationships: Friends I've made, friends I've lost, and other changing relationships, including within my family.
Growing in Wisdom Remember the verse Luke 2:52 about Jesus increasing in wisdom? That reminds us that he didn't know everything from the beginning. He had to grow up just as you are doing. As his body matured, so did his mind. He was discovering that life is much more complicated than how he saw it as a child. He was growing in his ability to make choices based on what he knew and how his decisions would affect others. As he grew he was learning to live responsibly:
Responsible Response-able Able to respond with maturity Able to respond faithfully Response-able Responsible
You're learning to live responsibly too, becoming more aware that what you do affects many persons, not just yourself. To do that, you need information and understanding in order to grow in wisdom as Jesus did. You must set goals for yourself and plan for your life. And you must carefully choose your mentors and life-teachers. You're recognizing that life is complicated, asking questions is crucial, and putting God at the center of your life is essential.
In all this, you will want to be more independent, to make your own decisions, and to take greater control of your life. And for that you need wisdom in all areas, especially about your self and your body.
Families Change as You Change
Families aren't addresses, houses, or names. Families are people. Sometimes families live in the same house, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes family members all have the same name, and sometimes they don't. Some members are born into the family while others are adopted in, married in, or just loved into the family for a variety of reasons. Some families have lots of children, and some have none. There are families with two parents, some with one, some with grandparents or some other family members, or foster parent.
So, what makes a family a family? More than marriage licenses, birth certificates, or adoption papers, a shared and caring life together defines a family. Families share experiences and connections, they care for and are committed to one another. And family members are interconnected: one person's changes impact the entire family, and your changes throughout adolescence will impact your family.
Who's in your family? Stop for a second, and around the oval "table" on the top of page 19, place your family. Draw a symbol for yourself and one for each member of your family, whether or not they live in the same house.
Once you have assembled your family (mentally or actually), draw lines between your symbol and each family member's symbol, representing the connection you feel with each person. Consider what this says about your family and about changes that are happening.
Don't worry: many changes are good ones! Your parents will begin to trust you to do things you weren't allowed to do when you were younger (going to the movies without a parent or baby-sitting for younger children), and you'll be allowed to take on new responsibilities (like driving or getting a job). On the other hand, change also means new limitations. Actions that were acceptable from you as a child are no longer appropriate (failure to keep your room tidy or throwing temper tantrums). As you move toward adulthood, you can say with the apostle Paul, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways" (1 Corinthians 13:11). Families help us discover what is and isn't appropriate behavior, although it isn't always an easy process for anyone! As you and your family grow and change together, you will be making such discoveries.
Communication is the key to positive change and growth. The healthiest adolescents are those who are able to communicate with adults who care about them, especially their parents. And, those same adolescents are least likely to engage in potentially destructive behaviors (like drug and alcohol use, sexual experimentation, and taking unnecessary physical risks), and most likely to demonstrate respect for themselves and others.
Belonging to God's Family
All of us were created in the image of God. Like God, you have a hand in the creation of something new—the new person you are becoming. You are God's work-in-progress. God is at work in you, shaping a mature body, mature mind, mature feelings and relationships, and a mature faith. Those who love you are watching with great anticipation to see the new you emerge.
Remember: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor" (Luke 2:52). What happened to the young Jesus over 2000 years ago is now happening to you.
Welcome to adolescence! You are growing and changing, becoming the adult God plans for you to be!
Excerpted from Created by God Student Book by James H Ritchie Copyright © 2010 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Changes Happening....................11
Chapter 2 Fantastic Female and Marvelous Male....................21
Chapter 3 Making Our Way Through Puberty....................40
Chapter 4 Created by God for Intimacy....................69
Chapter 5 Creating With God....................82
Chapter 6 The Question Box....................99