I know that this may seem like a cliché blog post, but I thought, why not? I have way more things I would tell myself, but I decided to stick with my top 15. Some people wish they could go back and do it all over, but I don’t. If I hadn’t experienced life the way I did, I would not be who I am today. However, there are some things I wish I had known.
- A relationship with God is not something that binds you, it frees you. As a teen I desired to have a relationship with God, but only on my own terms. I wanted to be the cool Christian. The one who swore here and there, laughed at inappropriate jokes, but still went to church every Sunday and volunteered time working with kids. The thought of fully committing my life to God put a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t want the rules and guidelines that came with, and I didn’t want to lose friends. This is one of my greatest regrets. I look at my life now, and my relationship with God, and realize how much it has freed me. I have been able to focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t. I choose to not do certain things because I know that they aren’t what God wants for me. I have been given courage and boldness to speak what God has done in my life. To all of my younger peers, don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Don’t be afraid to live a life of faith. The joy that you find in Christ is so much greater than the joy you will find in anything else!
- Mistakes are just that. Mistakes. I was that one kid who would screw up and immediately think that dying would be much easier than facing my parents. It’s dramatic, but it’s true. It felt like the world was ending. Well, it doesn’t. Thankfully the world goes on. Mistakes are how we learn. Mistakes do not make us failures. God knows that we are all going to make mistakes. It’s why Jesus died on the cross. So, the next time you make a mistake, take a deep breath. Forgive yourself because Jesus forgives you, and learn and move on.
- You are not alone in your suffering. The devil likes to get us in the mindset that we are the only ones that struggle with things. For me it was anxiety. I spent some time in some very dark places because I let myself believe the lie that I was alone and that I was the only one who understood. Not only was God with me through all of it, but there were people all around me, at church, school, grocery stores, Target, you name it, that were going through the same thing. By getting you to believe that you are alone, the devil is able to keep you knocked down for as long as he can. You are never alone. God never abandons us. Reach out to the people you trust and pray. Read the book of Psalms. There are some great passages in there about crying out to God in the dark times and how God is always there.
- You are beautiful. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life, that I can remember, that I thought I was beautiful. Ever. And this is one that I still have a hard time believing. I always joke about being average, I know that I am not drop dead gorgeous. There was a time I would have given anything to be considered pretty. I starved myself, wore tight clothes, and spent large amounts of money on my hair, makeup, and wardrobe. No matter how hard I tried I wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t until I started to see myself the way God sees me that I understood what true beauty is. The kind that doesn’t fade away as you get older or gain weight. It’s the kind that starts on the inside and works its way out. I am beautiful because God made me beautiful.
- Your parents only want what is best for you. Ah, yes. I don’t know how many times I have come to this realization. Too many times to remember. If I had only realized it at 16, I probably would have saved myself from many pity parties. This is one of those things that you might have to grow up a little to understand. Parents aren’t perfect, and they make mistakes. But, they will always want to protect you from as much as they can. I wish I could’ve seen this when I was younger.
- That boy won’t be able to love you like God does. Not only will he not give you the love that you are craving, he will break your heart after you give it to him. I wasn’t the girl who always had a crush, and I didn’t give my heart out to just anyone. I am still this way. I will say that one time I gave my everything to a boy who didn’t respect me, and I am still healing from it to this day. At the time I was looking for a love that would make my heart feel full. It wasn’t until I discovered my true identity in Christ that I understood what true love is.
- You still lose friends as an adult. This may seem like a negative way to view friendships, but I will explain. In high school I lost a lot of friendships. I closed myself off from my still existing friends because I thought it would be easier to make and keep friends as an adult. It’s not. I have both gained and lost friends as an adult. Sometimes it is for the best. I would have told myself to cherish every friendship while I could instead of only looking towards the future.
- It gets better. I know, another cliché. It is also true. At 16, I thought that things couldn’t get much worse than they already were. Life is funny that way because they did. Things got harder, and I got more hurt. But, after they got worse they got better. I still have many highs and lows ahead of me, but now I can face them knowing that things can always get better with time, especially with God by my side.
- You are going to conquer your biggest storms, so keep your head up. The word that comes to my mind is capable. Capable and strong. Anxiety was one of my storms. It started when I was a teenager, and it followed me into adulthood. I still have moments, but it doesn’t keep me in bed. I have to sit in the aisle seat at church, but it doesn’t keep me from going. It doesn’t cause me to sink into depression anymore. I am able to see how much God fought in, through, and for me to overcome this storm. I have been more than able to fight my anxiety, and it has made me stronger. God is so good.
- Sit with the kid who is alone, popularity isn’t most important. I was so busy trying to be popular that I forgot what it felt like to be the lonely kid. I am still working on becoming a kinder person. I wish I had started years ago. With all of the bullying that happens these days it is important to make sure that no kids fall through the cracks. Simply sitting by someone who doesn’t have many friends can make a huge difference in their day.
- Mom is right 99.9% of the time. And mom loves you! You might not always see it right away, but you will later. I think mothers have an endless source of wisdom or something because they always know the right thing to say and when to say it. So, if you are reading this, I love you mom! Thank you for everything you have done for me.
- Learn to love yourself. God loves you, and that is reason enough to love yourself. Sometimes I say some not so nice things about myself. One of my sisters likes to say, “Don’t say that about my friend.” We laugh about it, but I know she means it. I can imagine God saying it too. God created you the way He wanted to, so it’s ok to love yourself. You don’t have to change a thing.
- Growing up doesn’t fix things. This! I’m not sure if I’m the only one or not, but I thought that growing up would fix all of my problems. I may have gained perspective and knowledge, but some things only God can fix. He can fix them as soon as you let Him. You don’t have to be an adult before it happens.
- Don’t let fear hold you back. Fear is a natural human emotion, and we use it as an excuse to keep us safe from things that we think might harm us in one way or another. I am not saying you should purposefully throw yourself in the path of danger. I’m saying take the job, learn a new hobby, meet new people (a personal difficulty), or take the position of leader instead of follower. The worst thing that could happen is have it not work out, but at least you learned something from it.
- God has a plan for your life. I am still waiting to see what God has in store for my future, and it excites me. There was a time that I seriously doubted that God could use my broken life for anything important. He has proved me wrong over and over again. So, while my future remains a mystery to me, I am able to rest in peace knowing that what God has planned for me is better than I could ever imagine!
I would like to end this post with my life verse that my parents picked out for me when I was younger:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.