In one month I will turn 17! I’m so excited! And as I look back on everything that has happened as a 16 year old, I can’t help but stand in awe at how faithful the Lord is. He has taught me so much this year and I am looking forward to everything He has ahead. As I look back, I know I have made so many mistakes that would have been totally avoidable if I had been putting Jesus first in those specific areas. And I came up with 6 ways I wish I had brought my Lord more glory at 16 (and there are many more, but y’all probably don’t want to be reading this post for 19 hours, so I just chose 6).
1. Rejection of God's perfect design
“Oh no!” I said to myself as I looked in the mirror with disbelief. “My freckles really are uneven!” In case you’ve never seen me in person before, I have matching freckles on my cheeks that are rather noticeable, and one particular day, I spent a little too much time inspecting them in the mirror. I began to entertain thoughts of insecurity and basing my worth on how my freckles looked.
I allowed my sense of value to be determined by the way my freckles looked that particular day. And every single one of us girls can do that; the moment we take our eyes off Jesus and place them on to ourselves, we will loose security, because the only solid ground is Him! If I, as a young woman, determine my worth by the way I look, I will become self-focused. It is impossible to be Christ-centered while my eyes are fixed on myself; I must build my life around my amazing Savior and allow Him to transform the way I view my outer appearance. Isaiah 64:8 (KJV) says, “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we are all the work of Thy hand.” He has made me just as He saw fit for me to be, and it is my job to accept the design He has called “...very good..” (Gen. 1:31, KJV). I love the way Joni Eareckson Tada says it, “Each one of us is God’s special work of art. Through us He teaches and inspires those who view our lives."
2. Self-pity parties
“Well, this day couldn’t get much worse!” I said aloud as I stared at the ceiling in my bedroom. I reviewed what had happened that day; I failed a chemistry quiz, acted awkward around the friend that most needed encouragement, found out that I was way behind on my chores, and made a sibling upset with me. “Everything is such a mess in my life, Lord. Will things ever go right?”
Although I was praying, I was not giving my troubles over to the Lord. I wanted to dwell on the unloveliness of the day and, in essence, tell myself, “it’s all going to be okay! You don’t deserve any of this.”
Actually, I totally did deserve all of that. I could have studied better for that chemistry quiz, I should have reached out to that friend; it was my fault for not doing my chores, and, yes, I did provoke that sibling. Each of those things needed to be addressed in my life, and I was not looking forward to it. Imagine how that day could have gone differently if I had focused on making Christ known instead of having my way; it would have been drastically different.
First Corinthians 13:4-6 (ESV) says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” It is my prayer that I will not repeat that day, but instead remember it as an example of how every day can be if I focus on myself. I want to rejoice in each circumstance God sees fit to bring into my life; I want my life to be a song of praise to Him. If the center of my existence is Jesus, if He is my purpose in life, then no matter what I face, I can always respond in a way that uplifts and glorifies His name, by His power.
“Perhaps it’s hard to find much to be thankful for today. Perhaps all you can see is what’s wrong, what hurts, and what other’s are doing to you. But look above your circumstances, beyond your fears, and ask God to show you what He’s doing in the midst of them… The choice is before us: do we only give glory to God for the part of our lives that’s going the way we want? Or do we worship Him, trust Him, and give Him thanks, just because He is God--regardless of the painful, incomprehensible places we encounter in our journey?” Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth
Fact: as long as I can remember, I have always been prone to being a desperate flirt. Desperate enough that I even asked a guy to kiss me once when I was 8 years old (true story!). Thankfully he didn’t. As I grew in my relationship with the Lord, I knew that He was showing me I would have to change the way I related to guys. No more “umm… so… James, do you like me?” And no more wild attempts to get them to look my way.
By the time I was a fourteen year old freshman, I had made another wrong decision in the way I related to guys; this time I was completely ignoring them. “How do you even talk to a guy without making him think you’re interested him?” I would ask myself. I didn’t know the answer.
So I started playing this super fun game with the carpet. Whenever a guy my age made eye-contact with me, I would immediately turn my eyes to the carpet. I thought carpet-contact was a life saver! I didn’t have to handle talking to him, and he didn’t have to talk to me. Perfect.
What was even worse than my crazy attempts to avoid eye-contact was the deep awkward feeling I would entertain whenever an unavoidable conversation with a guy would come up. I would think, “is it okay to smile??” In times past, smiling at certain guys seemed to make them think I was fascinated with them, which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. It probably would have been comforting if I could have written “not interested--- like totally not interested in that way!” on my forehead. I was very worried about coming across as just a friend. It tormented me.
Guy-girl, just-friend relationships can be so tough sometimes. Even now, having moved on from that awkward stage, I still need to remind myself all the time that I need to share Christ’s love with the guys in my life in a selfless way. That means I should not ignore them, but also shouldn’t be flirty. I know, for a lot of girls, finding that balance can be extremely difficult, but if you are living a life totally given up for Christ, then your life is no longer about you, but instead it’s all about Jesus. Therefore we ask, “Lord, how would you like me to treat this guy in my life?” I found out that as soon as I made Jesus the focus of the interactions I had with the guys, I was able to feel less tense. It was no longer all about what that guy thought, but instead my focus was on exemplifying Jesus in our conversation.
I love to quote these verses to myself whenever I am tempted to allow feelings of awkwardness to creep in,
“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with humility, gentleness and patience.. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12, 14 (NIV)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9a (NIV)
Accepting the way God made you, rejoicing in the place He has put you, and treating guys with honor are three of the six areas I want to share about, and I have saved the other three for the next post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!
- Have you accepted the way God made you?
- Has the Lord used any specific circumstances in your life to teach you to give thanks in everything?
- Have ever found it difficult to treat the guys in your life with honor? How has the Lord shaped your thinking in that area of your life?
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