i wish i knew (insert long sigh here)...

time for another thing that lea doesn’t KNOW for “i don’t KNOW-vember”...

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i don’t KNOW what to do about teenage “relationships”. the whole “boy-girl” thing. “dating”. “going out”. etc...

a few years ago (before i had teenagers or when they were early teens) i could have told you my position on this.  no dating. your dad and i will pick your spouse when we are good and ready and Jesus’ younger brother or sister comes to earth, specifically tallahassee. and first baptist church. or maybe a presbyterian church. ha. 

really, i had some valid and wise thought on this. well thought out. well researched. dissertation worthy. HOURS of discussion worthy. but the word "HAD" is the vital word in this paragraph.

there are a plethora of wise people giving wise counsel about this. believe me. i know lots of wise people (don’t know why they hang out with me. but i do know a lot of them. and i daily thank God for all the wise people in my life who are doing serious mission work by hanging out in the lower intelligence levels of my life.) plus there are a plethora of well written books telling you to “kiss dating goodbye” or to “give dating a chance” or to “make out seriously without dating”. okay, so i made that last one up (but at least now i have a title for my autobiography.) i have read the depth and width and height and girth of this subject. i can see both sides of the issue. and i know there are a lot of things going on in dating that are NOT alright for teenagers. not safe. not mature. not wise. 

but we didn’t really have to face this head on (most likely because my kids saw all those books i was reading and no one wanted to have a 3 hour long lecture on the value of dating or hear about how mom and dad would pick out their spouse for them at age 20-never). no one at our home seemed really interested in dating (or in engaging us in dating conversations that i was good and well prepared to have before my 9:00 bedtime). and that was fine with us. easy. ka-sneezy. parents of the year award was assured. we could go gently into that good night of single teens.

and i don’t want the above photo to fool you into thinking that anyone at the marshall house is actually “dating” anyone (and i only use “dating” because i don’t know the cool hip term that the kids are using these days. because i am not cool nor am i hip. though i have excess hip. of the physical type.) maxx went with a group of friends to homecoming. a group of friends that consisted of boys and girls and this was a sweet girl who was in the group. and i took a photo because that is what i do. besides try to figure out whether teens should be “dating” or not. photo taking... easy. parental policies on relationships... difficult.

there are valid arguments on both sides of the “date or not date” battle. i have friends who are in GREAT marriages who did the courtship route and friends who dated each other in high school through college and friends who dated other people through high school and then they met later and are married. and i have friends who have never been on a date and every sane guy in the world (all three of them) should be looking for someone as wonderful as these gals. heck, i even have a best friend whose husband is a Christian sex therapist. he has a phd in the study of relationships. and his teenage son is dating someone. 

but as for me and my house... i have to say that i don’t know. 

i know what seems safest and would make these years easier for me. and in the end safety isn’t the best thing we can give our kids. being strong in the Lord and in His mighty power is more my goal. i also know that i am prone to make decisions out of fear or legalism or “looking like i am doing it all right” (and the amount of sleep that i would be able to get). i want to do it all the “right” way to obtain the “desired outcome”. check all my boxes of good Christian parenting. so that i can sleep at night knowing “I DID IT THE RIGHT WAY”. 

true story... i dated in high school (have you ever been on the lea marshall bike tour? when we used to go on the college bike trip i would take groups of college kids on little bike rides through my neighborhood and where i grew up and we would pass about 5 houses of boys i used to date. the college kids swear it was like 30 houses of boys i used to date. but really it was 5. or 7. okay it was less than a dozen.) and dating was fun. not dangerous. not seedy. or sexual. or heart crushing soul wrenching. i don’t have regrets from my dating years. sure i had my “heart broken” several times. but as soon as i sung three renditions of sheena easton’s “i’m almost over you” i was “over it” (alright i stole that sheena easton song idea from a friend that actually did listen to that song during a painful break-up. but it illustrates the point that my “heart breaks” were short lived.) i also know that times have changed. dating has changed. and yet i do have friends (yes, i have young friends) who “dated” just like that in high school and have turned out to be lovely God honoring people.

so i am in the “i don’t know” camp on this. and it isn’t as fun as sleep away camp. which means i am taking each day when it comes. which sounds really loosey goosey when i write it here. but honestly, it is how it is going in my world. one day at a time. new mercies every morning. not new rules... but new mercies. because it means being fully present to walking in relationships with my teenagers (and through relationships). and relationships aren’t based solely on checking off the boxes. 

so if you were looking for advice, read someone else’s blog. in fact if you are looking for advice you should “kiss lea’s blog goodbye”. but if you are looking for someone to karaoke sing sheena easton’s “i’m almost over you” song, then i am your girl. and if you are looking to date one of my teenagers.... i need a handwritten resume and a recommendation from the Lord on High.

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