My 16 Year Old Self…

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Dearest You

You are 16.  In so many ways, you are grown up.  You have achieved much and most days feel like you can accomplish anything!  I would venture to say you often approach the day with more confidence than I have now.  I remember the feeling.

Then, there are the other days.

You know the ones I am talking about.  All of a sudden, you’re a little girl again.  You desperately want someone to convince you that you are beautiful and that you’re making the right choices.  That all the areas of doubt that chase after you, will soon be worked out for the best.  You want to believe that your friends will always like you and that the boy you dream about will become your husband.  You want your daddy to hold your hand and walk you to school again.  You want your momma to tuck you in at night and sing to you.  You just feel uncertain.  The little girl who is trying to walk in a woman’s shoe.

Don’t worry, it’s normal. It’s a part of growing.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  It is okay not to be a grown up.  You should be growing.  You should be maturing.  You should be learning…but you are not finished!  I am not finished.  None of us will be complete until Jesus calls us home to heaven.

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Even though none of us are finished, some wise people are further along in the process.  Learn from them.  Find yourself a godly mentor who is producing fruit in their life.  Get to know someone who is actively pursuing Christ.  Or, maybe you’ll be blessed with a few people like that.  Humble yourself and ask to learn.  You need it, because that is how God designed His family.  He wants us to learn from each other.

Be confident in who God made you and who He did not make you.  Work hard to be successful in areas that you are talented and be comfortable in admitting where you are weak.  Everybody has different giftings.  Find yours and strengthen them!  Pursue opportunities to use them!  Yes it’s good to try things out and be well-rounded, but it’s also very healthy to be selective in what you fill your time with.  Take positive steps towards growth!

I had a very hard time with this, when I was 16.  I wanted to be chosen and have a role in everything I saw.  This created “plastic woman” and she was UGLY.  She was loud and insecure.  She was trying to squeeze into every wrong situation, while missing all the opportunities that would have been a great fit.  People around “plastic woman” judged her and teased her.  The ones that accepted this identity were also suffering from living under the fake, plastic shell.  They created a vicious cycle amongst each other.  It was suffocating.

Once created, it takes a long time to heal from this identity crisis.  “Plastic woman” does not give up easily because she is being motivated by satan.  He wants you to believe the lies that are being whispered to you.  He does not want you to see what is going on until you have lost everything.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10)

The only thing that heals you and brings you back to the truth of who you really are, is making choices to find your identity in Christ.  This must be your foundation if you will be able to believe any of God’s other truths for your life and future.  This will take time and you will need to choose to believe this every day.  You will probably need to even say this out loud!

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Walk in these truths.  In your “confident days” be confident because you are trusting in God’s plans for you, not in your own abilities.  Every good thing you experience or any talent you exhibit, are from God.

Allow yourself to find truths in the middle of your doubts and move past them.  You friends will not always like you and they will hurt your feelings.  They are human.  Sometimes this is because they make mistakes.  And, sometimes this is because you need to choose healthy relationships and these people are a bad influence.  God is the only one who will never leave you.

You are beautiful but you won’t look like a super model.  We often convince ourselves that since we don’t look a “certain” way, that we are ugly.  Not true!  Super models are real people who are airbrushed and not every person is supposed to have long blonde hair.  It’s good to be healthy, but don’t lie to yourself and wait for everyone else to perpetuate the false reality you’re hoping to achieve.  You will just be disappointed and you will miss out on being the person God designed you to be!

The guy you like when you’re 16 will most likely not become your husband.  Out of all my friends, there are only 2 or 3 of us who married high-school sweethearts.  It’s not a bad thing.  Now that I’m married, I am so glad that I did not stay with my high school boyfriend.  He is a great guy, but not for me.  My husband is perfect for me, but I would not have been ready for him when I was 16.  Just be confident that God has someone in store for you when you are a better age to receive that blessing.  I know you think that it’s just something adults tell you, but it really is true!  In the meantime, be careful to guard your heart and make pure choices.

It’s good to pursue a close relationship with your parents.  Even now, I love holding my daddy’s hand and praying with my momma (actually with both of my parents).  The world will tell you that it’s not cool, but God tells you to honor them and you will live a long life (Ephesians 6:1).  Enjoy them and be respectful.  You want to look grown up?  Be respectful and kind.  It shows maturity and they will probably give you more freedom too!

Finally, avoid blue eye shadow, stop playing with your hair so much, and be careful how much you laugh when something is only a little bit funny.  You may not understand now, but trust me.  When you’re no longer 16, you will thank me.

{Picture is courtesy of a “high school throw-back,” I am on the far left in the flower dress. Oh my!}

He Makes Beautiful.

The truth you need:

Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image,  in the image of God he created them;  male and female he created them.”

Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Psalm 139:13-15, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

God makes beautiful.  He is perfect; only in Him could the dust of the ground be formed into a perfectly knit-together human being.  Only a holy Creator could breathe life into nostrils and declare it living…and not just living, but the true definition of good.

You are precious miracle.

Before the healing can come:

In a fallen world, we have accepted images, terms, and conditions about what makes something beautiful or wonderfully made.  We have humanized beauty and cheapened it down to what we can identify or sell.  What is pleasing to our sinful lusts as we covet or gaze with discontentment.  That’s right, I said the word “covet”…and we’ve all been guilty of it!  Covet means to want what has been given or belongs to another person.  The act of coveting has a voracious appetite to devour any good thing around it and when it achieves something, it will just move on to the next thing it sees.  Is that not what we do or what we participate in, when we long to look like another individual or have something be true of us that we feel is missing (that is not a godly character trait)?

I have already began the body-image/beauty conversations with my little girl who attends kindergarten at a private school.  Already at age 5, she is buying into the lies that she must look a certain way or gather with certain friends in order to be declared beautiful.

Ladies, with the power of God’s help in our time of need, we are going to stop right now!  No more! 

I want you to understand something very clearly…When you complain about yourself or harbor depressive and negative thoughts inside about your physical being, you are buying into Satan’s lie that is straight from the pit of hell! 

You are saying that something God has declared good and wonderful is not good enough for you…you are doing exactly what Satan did when he put himself above God before he was thrown from heaven.  You are saying that you know what is best and you lie to yourself. 

Give up the lie.  Confess out loud the lie you have been feeding yourself and flee from it!  To you, that may mean you stop buying magazines or you stop watching certain movies.  It may at times feel like sacrifice, because when we are lying to ourselves and believing Satan, he makes it feel good even in the worst moments of despair.  Satan somehow perverts the lie enough that we cannot stay away from it.  When we are in a sinful habit, we are drawn to it and crave the way it works inside of us.

This habit must be broken.

If we are going to stop believing these lies, we must confess our sin and replace the lies with truth.  Just like if you clean out an area in your home, you cannot just leave it empty and expect it to stay clean.  Junk will find a way back into that space like lies will find their way back into your heart.  You must give that an area a “job” and fill it with organized items that fit into the job you have declared for the space.  In our heart and mind, this means making active choices and thoughts that are truthful. 

Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

A healed heart can accept truth.

Once you have confessed and asked God to help you clean out the lies, you are ready to understand and believe the truth.  One thing that I have found, to at least be true about myself, is if truth is told to me before I confess the lie I’m believing…I do not listen and the truth frustrates me because I’m still believing the opposite.

Frustration is not from God, but the Holy Spirit does work to convict our heart when we need to confess.  Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Truth is this.  God does not do anything that is half-way.  He does not have mistakes or leave things unfinished.  God is an intricate designer and He made you for a reason…His glory!  Now, let that sink in.  We know that God’s glory in unmatched and He shares His glory with no one.  In God’s goodness, He created us to glorify Himself.  The definition of beautiful.

No lie is worth that.  Do not exchange God’s amazing story for anything cheap.  Only the creator is allowed to declare the definition of His created.  Anything else is counterfeit.

Wherever you are right now, know you are a chosen individual.  God formed you and made you for a relationship with Himself.  He desires to keep company with you and sing over you with His truth.

Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

He makes beautiful.

Reflections of HIS NAME.

I hear God’s name quite a bit throughout my day.  I speak His name even more.  I pray through the power of His name and His name brings comfort to my soul.

I understand that we live in a society that is pressing God out as much as possible.  They wrongly believe that if they slander Him, disown Him, or deny Him that He will go away.  This breaks my heart.  The kinder, albeit misguided, remarks state that “He is a gentleman who will step aside.”

What breaks my heart even more, though, is how His children drop His name so loosely.  In doing so, we dishonor Him.  We misrepresent Him and grieve His heart.  Phrases like “OMG” or “Oh lord” “Oh god” roll off the tongues He created without a thought.  We think if we spell it differently in our Facebook status or say it to a non-Christian friend, it will be okay.  We’ve adjusted our phrases to “Oh my gosh” or “geez” to be less offensive.

Earthly relationships are so quick to disolve at the first hint of disrespect or lies.  Gossip, slander, or misuse of one’s name can even bring felony charges in our legal system.  But His children. His creation somehow has deemed it their right to address the God of the Universe any way they want to.  We would never decide this in regards to a judge or a police officer that is speaking to us.  Yet in our sinfulness, an Almighty God, has become a catch-phrase.  A figure of speech when a situation is cool or horrifying.  Approaching His throne, because of grace, has become a license to equalize His greatness to our humanness.

How would our culture change or be transformed, if, all the believers (who are so quick to condemn the God-less society) actually stepped up and obeyed God like we’ve said we do.  If we represented Him accurately and pleased Him in all respects?  If we were reflections of His name.

A name identifies us.  It is tied to people’s opinions of us, conjuring up emotions for good or bad.  People remember our character and associate it with our name.  I see this more as I am reading through the Bible in this new year.  There are entire chapters devoted to names and geniology.  God calls people by their name and He declares generational blessings and curses by a person’s name.  He knows His children, often even going to the great length of changing their name to give them a fresh start as His child.

The same is true with GOD.  He created the world.  He set before Himself people whom He loved.  Then, He did something amazing.  He declared His name.  He began a relationship with people where our obedience pleases Him and our sin breaks His heart.

As a child of God, His name is precious to me.

Exodus 34:5-6 says “5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”

Exodus 20:7 says 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Leviticus 22:31-33 says, 31 “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. 32 Do not profane my holy name, for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who made you holy 33 and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

As a child of God, His name is a promise to me.

Psalm 9:10 says, Those who know your name trust in you,  for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 20:7 says, Some trust in chariots and some in horses,  but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 91:14 says, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;  I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;  the righteous run to it and are safe.

Sisters, as we grow together in the knowledge of God, let us be known in part for being careful with our tongue.  As for me, I do not want to use God’s name carelessly or in any manner that does not convey His absolute awesomeness and complete holiness.  “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

Watch your mouth and encourage one another to have fruitful speech!

Colossians 1:9-14

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified youto share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Family of God…

I have to admit, my little world felt a bit bigger tonight because one of my favorite bloggers actually read my blog.  I know that may sound like a throw-back to jr high, but it goes much deeper than that.  I think it taps into what God wanted it to be like in His family.

In Titus 2:3 it says, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”  And, It’s not just speaking about women who are much older than you…it could be a woman who is just older in her faith or season of life…

Hebrews 10:24 explains that we are to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” when we are a part of the family of God.

And, Proverbs 31:26 says a woman of God “speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”

In the family, we are supposed to be in relationship.  We are designed to encourage one another.  We are made to crave reflections of our Heavenly Father.  As a woman of God, I am supposed to learn from some and teach others.  As I am refreshed and taught by sisters, I am really being refreshed and taught by our Father because He is the One who is being displayed.  He is the One who is working in my life…He just chooses to use people. Other sisters…because He’s a wonderful God and He knew.  He understood we would need each other as we walked this earth before being with Him.

When you choose to conduct yourself with grace and encourage one another, you will be set apart from the distructive course women, so often, aimlessly choose. There may be a woman who is a sister in Christ or someone you see at the grocery store, but she will be drawn to you to recieve the refreshment her soul longs for.  Not because you are the answer, but because you radiate the Father and share wisdom from Him.  Your friends and the people you meet will leave their time with you changed and with a desire to spend more time with Jesus.

If you would like to have a genuine reminder of the Heavenly Father, I encourage you to read Kari Patterson’s blog Sacred Mundane. She has greatly encouraged me and I am thankful for the reminder tonight of how God builds His family.