A few months ago … I turned 16!
I actually didn’t want to turn 16.
All my life, I’ve been dying to be older, but as I’ve actually attained those ages that were so eagerly anticipated, I’ve realized that with the perks and the privileges come a ton of responsibilities too. Now, I’m scared to be older, because that means that I have to make some big decisions about my future, who I am and who I want to be, what work I want to do, and what people I want to be around. It means remodeling my life, and it’s a really scary and uncomfortable phase.
I have all these expectations of what I’d like my life to look like, but I know that YHVH’s plan is the only plan. When I can’t see His plan, I get scared and either want to shrink and hide, or take control of my life. I’m uncomfortable in a transition phase, because I don’t feel secure.
Okay, so none of you ever knew. Even if you know me personally, you would never have described me as someone who wants to shrink into a corner. You would have described me as a ‘go-getter’, a smart student, quick-thinking, creative, athletic, studious, fun-loving, confident enough to strike up a conversation with anyone regardless of their age or gender. A soak-up-info-like-a-sponge girl, a romantic, a musician. (I’m serious! People would definitely describe me this way!)
But sometimes, the people who look the most put-together and in-control, are the most insecure. We put pressure on ourselves to be as awesome as everyone thinks we are, sometimes to be even better! As an oldest child, with a competitiveness inherited from both my parents, my mindset is “finish it fast, first, and better than ever before!”
But it gets exhausting, and when I can’t do it, I wonder what’s wrong with me.
But the truth is, I don’t HAVE to be better.
I just have to do my best. Waiting, patiently, for YHVH’s plan. (Did I mention I’m not very patient?) But we don’t have to become patient people to wait. We just have to become trusting people.
What I have learned throughout the year …
1. You don’t have to do it all.
I have really high ambitions for myself and I worry about if I’ll graduate on time, will I be able to get into a college if I want to, am I smart enough to make a living, am I secure and strong enough to live alone … but my Dad advised me to just take it one step at a time. You can’t get to square three without starting on square one.
And yes, I’m still ambitious! I want to play volleyball and do calligraphy and make vision boards and complete all the math curriculum possible and write songs and go on morning runs and redo my room and make money and workout … just see my bucket list!! But those things don’t have to take first place.
First place belongs to the things that are REALLY important.
2. Honor the people you live with.
I know it seems like your family understands you and can put up with you when you get annoying, but recently I’ve had to ask my family’s forgiveness a lot for being, as two of my brothers put it, cranky. (A most glamorous epithet for a contemporary teen girl, I know! *facepalm*)
My relationship with my Dad is so close. He is my protector against the world. He deserves my trust because he has proven himself to be a man after God’s own heart. I trust him so much … even when I disagree with him, I respect him because I know he only wants the very best for me. I’m so thankful for his presence in my life, providing for me, giving me all sorts of wisdom and advice, and leading our family in a strong walk of faith with God and in ministry to a huge sector of people.
My Mom and I have the relationship every girl has with her mom – we’ve had all the long talks about fashion, boys, and the future. But that’s not the only way my Mom helps me … she works so hard to make great food, cooking, baking, gardening, drying, preserving, and canning. She takes me to piano lessons. She takes me to my friends’ houses. She has my friends over! She goes shopping with me. When my acne was bad, she literally did everything she could to help me with it. She has a great faith that gets her up in bed every morning to read the Bible and pray for hours. My Mom is Superwoman.
My parents are a team. And they love me together.
But parents aren’t the only ones who deserve respect …. Anyone got siblings? 😂
There are so many reasons to be kind to your siblings. As an oldest child, I frequently have problems suppressing my sisterly urge to tell my three brothers what to do … hehe. When I do it, it obviously doesn’t go over well. I’ve seen so many girls that have horrible relationships with their brothers (or sisters!) And I don’t have any experience with sisters (because I don’t have any), but I have a brother who is 17 months younger than me and we are best friends. I’m not kidding.
My relationship with my brother is so close and wonderful! We can tell each other anything. He is great at so many things and we share our knowledge and ideas and struggles.
Neither of us are perfect siblings, and we do get mad at each other sometimes, but our relationship is so strong that we can easily forgive and forget. I get so sad when I see brothers and sisters snapping at each other, or laughing when the other person has their feelings hurt. This is not the way it should be! We should be loving and caring, helping each other along in Christ, helping each other to become better and encouraging each other!
Something to think about …. Someday you may like someone in a special way. You need to realize that the way a girl treats her brother is the way she’ll treat her husband. The way a guy treats his sister is the way he’ll treat his wife. And trust me, people know this. When I see a boy who mistreats his sister, not only am I saddened, but that means that the boy has lost a ton of estimation in my eyes because … if he treats his sister in that way …. Then how will he treat his wife?
3. It’s not about Me – it’s about Him. (God)
Every year, me and a bunch of other families rent a whole camp and stay there a week, staying up late, having shared meals, and studying the Bible. This year, it’s going to look a lot different. I’ve been struggling with that a lot and wishing that we could do what we always do. I selfishly want this, I want that ….
But it’s not about me. The reason we DO this campout is FOR GOD. And this applies to everything in our lives! Whatever you do, do it for the glory of GOD.
It’s not about me; it’s about Him.
4. Boundaries mean nothing if you don’t have the right motive.
How close is too close to get to a guy? Can you hold hands? Can you be alone together? The Bible doesn’t say anything about “just friends” or “hanging out” or “dating”, so how do we know what to do?
The fact that some people ask this is a dead giveaway that they want to get as close to the line as they can, without “actually” sinning. Or, some people might be just genuinely wondering. I’ll assume I’m talking to the second audience, because if you belong to the first audience, you shouldn’t be here. You should be on your knees with your Bible open.
*Anyway* To address the issue, here are a few verses that are important to remember :
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:30-31, NKJV (emphasis mine)
(Treat others the way you would want to be loved. If another teen were in love with you but they didn’t respect your boundaries or tried to accelerate your relationship beyond what you were comfortable with, that wouldn’t be a loving act, would it?)
Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.1 Timothy 5:1-2, NKJV (emphasis mine)
(I get that the context is about exhortation versus rebukes, but it also highlights the way we are to relate to the sexes in even the most tense and highly emotional situations – as brothers and sisters. Maybe not the way we normally relate to our siblings (since many of us are prone to failure in that regard,) but if you think about just how platonic and caring your relationship with your siblings should be, it presents a much clearer picture of how to relate to others “in all purity”.)
5. It’s not enough to just talk the talk – it’s not enough to just walk the walk – you have to LIVE the LIFE.
I found this truth buried in a heap of missed bible readings and ever-piling workouts. Yep. In plainer terms: I was so busy trying to build myself physically, that I forgot about building myself up spiritually. I constantly have to remind myself to go and DO things – not because they gain my salvation, but because of my salvation! If you have a light, shine it!
6. Appearances are deceiving …
Let’s be honest: when was the last time you saw someone with a zit and thought “Man, they look SO ugly today. If they didn’t have that zit, they would look SO much better.” Nobody thinks that! The truth is, we are much harder on ourselves and our appearances than anyone else is. Most people don’t even care what you look like! And yet, that truth is so hard to grasp.
What really matters is what’s going on in the inside. The most gorgeous girl can appear ugly if she is rude, shallow in character, or obnoxious. I’d rather spend my time in the pursuit of spiritual beauty, than wake up one day with the acne gone, but spiritually empty.
(All that being said, sometimes we think we suffer more than anyone else appearance-wise. But guess what – everyone thinks that! I don’t know a single person who has not been insecure about something at one time or another. So, although they may look like they’re fine on the outside, they may not be doing so good on the inside. So – let’s be sensitive to the unspoken insecurities of others, and build each other up.)
7. Just DO The Hard Thing.
You know when you have a dream, but having that dream means you’re going to have to do things that are either impossible, very difficult, or take a long time? When faced with the realities of a dream, I often give up, telling myself it isn’t worth it to me. But what if it truly IS worth it? Then you’ve missed out … Big time.
Don’t go in headfirst, without knowing how deep the bottom is. First measure the depth, then dive in … immediately! Before you have a chance to lose your nerve … or worse, let the dream slowly slip away.
8. Age is just a number.
I spent many years practically wishing away my life so that I could be 16, or 17, or 18. Then, finally, I neared my 16th birthday, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t excited. Because I’ve finally realized how fast time flies.
Life slips away so fast that we don’t realize when we are wasting our life. And dreaming away our lives, til the day we can drive; til the day we can date; til the day we can graduate high school; til the day we can go to college and blast the socks off our teachers; til the day we can get married; til the day when we *finally* have our dream body; we could waste our whole lives dreaming in this way, never stopping to enjoy the amazing benefits of right now.
Please, don’t wish the years away like I did. Age is just a number, but the years of your life are a blessing. Enjoy them while you have them! They will be gone before you know it.
Alright everyone, I hope you enjoyed these and that they were a blessing to you! Which one spoke to you the most? What’s one thing (or two, or three …) that you’ve learned in the past year?
(I’ll post a second part, as a series, sometimes in the future. No plans as to when, though!)