This past Saturday a sweet woman and a friend I’ve known for some time invited me to a birthday tea she hosted for her 13-year-old girl. Before the celebration, she asked a few ladies to write down a few things to encourage her girl as she is stepping boldly into her teenage years. As I sat and stared a blank document all last week, these ten things came to mind that I wanted to share with her. But as I read them aloud to her Saturday afternoon and handed her the letter for good, I had the desire and got the blessing to share these ten things with other teenage girls if they had ten minutes to put down some homework, and read a little blog. So, here we are. Of course, this list is just scratching the surface of things we need to be teaching those younger than us, but we have to start somewhere, right? The only thing that is coming between us is a computer screen, but imagine us sitting across a quaint little table from one another sipping on some hot tea.
Life is learned as you live it, but as my mind started spinning, my fingers slowly started typing the things that I wish someone would have told me at 13 years young. And although I’m sure someone did tell me these things, I probably didn’t listen because I probably thought I already knew everything. Grin. So I’m praying that even if these words seems useless or boring to you today, that you would keep them tucked away and read them when life seems confusing or hard.
For years I’ve loved the word becoming. It’s one of those words that I’ve latched onto for different reasons and at times have even desired to start a ministry called “Becoming Ministries”. Don’t tell me you don’t think things like that, too. And if you don’t, well, just humor me. I really latched onto that word in college because I remember thinking that that season would either make me or break me. That who I chose to become in college would influence the rest of my life.
That is true, but what I realize now is that it starts long before college.
The choices you make affect who you are becoming long before you ever get to college.
You are always becoming. You never arrive. That is, until you meet Jesus face to face. Until then, it’s one long (or short the way you look at it) journey of becoming more like Jesus Christ. Because each circumstance and situation we find ourselves planted in is another opportunity to respond like Jesus would.
Hence my love for the word, becoming.
So, as you are becoming a young woman devoted to the Lord, here are a few things I’ve learned on my own journey of becoming who God has called me to be, for such a time as this:
1) God is the author of your story, not you.
That is so much easier said than lived out, but it is the Gospel truth. He has a plan and a purpose for you that is greater than you could dream up or imagine. If you think your dreams are big, imagine how big His dreams must be for you! If He is the author, He knows the beginning, the middle and the end. Nothing is too complex for Him, no detail is left unnoticed, and His timing is perfect. Sometimes life can be complicated, hard and confusing, but that’s why we have to remember that we have the God of the universe in charge of our story.
2) You are beautiful.
I want you to hear that with fresh ears. God made you unique. He made you, you. And He made you in His image. Since you bear His image, I am praying that as people see you, they would see His face shining upon you. Beauty really is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
Side Note: Yes, it’s okay to like cute clothes, just don’t let that be your measure of beauty. (I mean, let’s be honest, some girls like to shop. Hand raised!)
3) Know the Word.
And know what it says about you. If I’ve learned one thing, I’ve learned that if I can’t always believe what I think about myself, and I can’t always believe what people are saying about me or what the internet says about me, I can believe what the Lord says about me. I can rest in the truth of His word and the promises He gives.
4) Life Consists of Seasons.
Just like the four seasons come and go, so will different seasons of life come and go. Don’t despair! “This too shall pass.” is true in both sweet and bitter seasons of life. While you don’t need to wish any of it away, remember to savor the sweet seasons, take the joy when it comes and stay faithful during the bitter seasons. Worship in the good times and bad. Jesus will be faithful over and over and over again. It’s in the valleys that God develops your character.
5) Be Humble.
At church my pastor always tells us to “go low”. Going low means being humble, staying humble, becoming a servant instead of searching for the spotlight. Serve, serve, serve. Invest, invest, invest in people. Never get too comfortable in your routine that you can’t go out of your way to help somebody else. Work quietly with your hands and your Father in Heaven will reward your faithfulness. Be faithful in the small things. You’ll never be too good to do something “meaningless”.
6) Be bold.
In a world of social networking, we can hide behind our computer, our phones, or our iPads. Be bold. Learn how to communicate face to face. It’s a life skill that’s becoming extinct, especially to our teenagers. Refrain from posting things online that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. Passive-aggressiveness (posting something for all to see when you only mean it for one to see) is not attractive.
7) True Love Waits.
I don’t mean that in the way you hear it in church all the time. Staying pure until marriage is a gift, by all means, yes, pursue purity. It’s much harder than you think in the sex-saturated world we live in, but whether you believe it or not, it’s possible. What I mean is, wait for a man that will pursue you, not confuse you. (And be careful not to be the one doing the confusing, either. We girls certainly know how to manipulate.) Wait for a man that will protect your purity, not use it. You are responsible for how you present yourself; so present yourself in a way that’s worth protecting. Sex doesn’t equal love, so wait for a man that loves and respects you enough to practice restraint towards you instead of giving into temptation before marriage. Building a relationship and romance takes time, something we’ve lost the art of in a world with technology at our fingertips, so don’t feel pressure to rush things. Remember, before you are someone’s wife, you are first their Sister in Christ, so don’t settle for less than being treated like a Sister. Your future husband will admire and value you. But also remember, there is forgiveness in Christ. You are not your past; your future spouse is not his past. The Lord redeems and renews. Praise God! But be patient in the waiting. (That’s coming from a girl whose story is still being written. It’s not easy at all. Not one ounce is easy. But Jesus is good and He is better.)
8) Pursue Your Calling.
You may not know what the Lord is calling you to do today, and that’s okay. But pursuing your calling is a bold and courageous thing. Run after the things that make your heart swell. Ask questions, ask for wisdom. Be friends with those younger than you, older than you and in the same season as you. Do things you love to do. Make a plan, but keep in mind that you can make all the plans in the world, but the Lord is the one who directs each of our steps.
9) Your Words Matter.
Speak kind words to, in front of, and behind your friend’s backs. And make sure your words and your actions line up with each other. Be honest. Be loving. Be kind. Be generous. A lady named Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make people feel loved with your words and actions. In a world of email and text messaging, don’t loose the wonder of snail mail.
You are never too old or too young to simply stop and have fun on this journey of life. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Laugh with your friends. Laugh with your family. Enjoy life Savor it. Journal about it. Talk about your experiences. Visit places you think are interesting. When all is said and done, you don’t want anyone to remember you as a Negative Nelly. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom and joy! So own that joy, live it out and share it with those around you.
You are dearly loved, my Sister in Christ. This I know, the Lord has a plan for your life that no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind can comprehend or imagine. Believe it. Believe that Jesus is better.
“No one has ever seen,
no one has ever heard,
no one has ever imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“3 So trust in the Lord and do good.
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Live on your land and be dependable.
4 Enjoy serving the Lord, and he will give you whatever you ask for.
5 Depend on the Lord. Trust in him, and he will help you.
6 He will make it as clear as day that you are right.
Everyone will see that you are being fair.
7 Trust in the Lord and wait quietly for his help.
Don’t be angry when people make evil plans and succeed.
8 Don’t become so angry and upset that you, too, want to do evil.
9 The wicked will be destroyed,
but those who call to the Lord for help will get the land he promised.
10 In a short time there will be no more evil people.
You can look for them all you want, but they will be gone.
11 Humble people will get the land God promised, and they will enjoy peace.”
Psalm 37: 3-11
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