I recently started going to a new dentist. They take pictures of my teeth, display them on a 50 inch screen in front of me, and point out the different things that are wrong. Not cool! The last time I visited, my dentist told me that I had been grinding my teeth, and that I should start wearing a retainer in order to preserve them and experience fewer headaches. Preserving my teeth sounds great, but I asked the dentist what the root of my problem was. (Haha, see what I did there?) She said, “I don’t know…maybe stress.”
As a student pastor, I’m constantly confronted with the reality that every new adversity in the life of a teenager is amplified. Students are just trying to find their way without standing out too much while living up to the expectations of everyone around them in addition to their own. The life of a teenager is heavy. Navigating friendships, family dynamics, school, work, and spiritual things can be new and exciting, but it’s often intimidating and overwhelming.
With so many responsibilities, it can be difficult choosing what to leave in and what to leave out. I read yesterday, with my teenage daughter, Emma, that the word “priorities” wasn’t used until the 10th century. Before that, only “priority” was used. Not plural, but singular. Maybe one of the reasons so many of us experience anxiety is because we’ve lost focus of the main thing, divided our attention, and misplaced priority. As Jesus addresses His anxious disciples in Matthew 6:25-34, I’m reminded of the main thing when I reach verse 33:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
These early disciples were worried about things like food, water, and clothing. Seems pretty basic, but following Jesus had led to a scarcity of these resources. It’s kind of hard for me to relate to that, if I’m honest. In fact, the things that I worry about often seem frivolous in comparison. Today I’m challenged to focus my priority on God’s kingdom, where He promises to meet all my needs, save me from worry, and hopefully save my teeth!