After a weekend conference followed by twelve hours on a bus that included three stops at McDonalds, a “Frozen” sing-along and sneaking Red Bull when your youth minister wasn’t watching, you’re dropped off in the Church parking lot with a bag of dirty laundry and a heart that’s been transformed.
Right now you are like:
You need a shower. You need to think and pray. You need some fiber because that was a lot of pizza.
And somehow, you need to share what’s happened with your parents, grandparents or guardians. Obviously. Because you live with them. They know you well, and they want to know what’s new in your life, whether it’s orthodontics, a crush or the Holy Spirit.
So you tell them about your weekend. That you heard really challenging talks that have inspired you to change things about your life. You tell them that you felt closer to God during adoration than you ever have before. You tell them that you know now that “God proves his love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
And they totally get it!
It’s a great feeling. and you hug it out and go take a nap. You go to daily Mass together the next day and all pray in thanksgiving for a great weekend and for the continued conversion of you and your youth group.
But that doesn’t always happen.
Sometimes your family is more like:
Skeptical. Doubtful. Wondering if you’re so holy now, why did you pinch your sister when she didn’t make space for you in the minivan?
When your family doubts your conversion, it can hurt. It can also be tempting to dig in your heels and try to be extra holy, to prove a point. However, your relationship with God and your quest for holiness should be for your own good- not to prove the adults in your life wrong. If this is your experience, take it to prayer and ask God for help with communicating what’s on your heart with you family. It may just take time for them to realize that even though you’re not perfect (because who is?) you’re making real changes in your life that they will recognize and admire.
When your family doubts your conversion, it can also be tempting to doubt yourself.
The first time you mess up, it can be tempting to think “they’re right. THIS is who I am.” But take heart- since the apostles, the followers of Jesus have struggled. If you fail after your decision to follow Christ, you’re in the company of plenty of saints. Check out Christ’s words to St. Peter in John, Chapter 21. Even though St. Peter denied Him as he was put on trial, Christ later entrusted St. Peter with the mission to care for his flock- The Church (John 21:17). Keep struggling and ask the saints to pray for you- they’ve been there.
And then sometimes you really want to talk, but you can tell they’re not focused on you.
Adults can have a lot on their minds- it doesn’t mean that you’re not important, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to know what’s going on in your life or what your experiences have been.
Your mom may ask “how was your weekend” on the drive home, right before your little brother’s swim lesson or little sister’s doctor’s appointment- and it’s necessarily the best time to tell every detail. However, a simple “fine” or “awesome” might not convey that you want to share more of the story. Offering a response of, “It was incredible- and there’s lots that I want to talk to you about, but can we wait for a better time?
I regularly talk to amazing parents who don’t know quite what to make of their teen’s experience with their faith because it was so different from their own. Not better or worse- just very different. Remember- Steubenville Youth Conferences and Life Teen are a relatively new movement in the Catholic Church and probably not something your parents experienced when they were your age.
As you share your experiences with your family, be patient. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be a witness to all that God is doing in your life. Know that they love you and that with all the quirks and imperfections every family has they are they people God gave you to strive for holiness with. It might not always be easy, but God will give you what you need.