Today, I'm jumping back into the series “6 things I Regret Doing at 16.” If you missed part one, click here to read it, before you jump into part two!
4. Self-Centeredness instead of Christ-Centeredness
When I was 16, I was a junior, and it was by far the most challenging year of high school for me. On top of having eight classes, I was in a rough situation. I had caught a person in some serious sin, and that situation did not get handled the way I had hoped. Between trying to study sulfur for a class presentation in chemistry, editing photos for my photography business, and attempting to address the situation, the Lord strongly convicted me of an issue in my heart:
I was constantly complaining.
“Why did they have to respond that way?”, “Did they even have to do that in the first place? This makes my life so much more painful!”, “Are the people who said they would help me just completely ignoring me?! If I were them I would have handled this in ‘such and such’ a way.”
I was discouraged; very discouraged. And it was all because I had taken my focus off of Jesus Christ and placed it instead on myself and the situations in front of me. In so doing, I was saying “My security and joy come from how my circumstances are playing out!” What a massive lie of the enemy!
This life is not about Cassidy; it’s about Jesus! But that’s not how I was living. As Christians, we are called to be cross carriers; we must do as He has commanded us in His word: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me’” (Matthew 16:24 NASB). Sometimes as believers in this self-obsessed generation, we get confused. We somehow come to the conclusion that being a Christ follower is an added comfort or a cute little “accessory” we can add to our lives to enhance our happiness. Friends, this life is so not about happiness; in living an existence built around Jesus Christ, there is such unspeakable joy! But we are never guaranteed happiness at every hour. It’s as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has so wisely said, “Jesus prayed ‘Thy will be done’ and within hours He was on the cross. I want to have a heart attitude that doesn’t [question] God. Saying ‘Thy will be done’ is the death of my self will.’” 
Life as a follower of Jesus requires death. Death to myself: my will, my way, my dreams, my hopes, my expectations. Jesus was crucified; why would we expect anything else for our lives personally? This means major heart surgery - self utterly abandoned - and Christ exalted as first. As A.B. Simpson has said, “We may not preach a crucified Savior without also being crucified men and women. It is not enough to wear an ornamental cross as a pretty decoration. The cross that Paul speaks about was burned into his very flesh, was branded into his being, and only the Holy Spirit can burn the true cross into our innermost lives.” 
5. Disobedience in the heart
Sixteen was also a year full of reminders that obedience is a whole lot more than just saying, “yes, mam!” To be honest, I had thought that I wouldn’t need to think about obeying my parents and honoring them as much as I got older. I figured that it would just become more natural and less of a thing I would have to be constantly praying about. Then one day I found out I was totally wrong…
It was a sunny May afternoon; everything was going well - a great morning at church, encouraging conversations with some friends, a nice family lunch - then I started to get ready to leave for a few friends open houses. “Mom, is it okay if I take the car to Kendra, Jill, and Aaron’s open houses?” I could tell by the look in her eyes when she glanced up that the answer was no; “Cassidy, you have so much to get done today. Please just stay here.” It that moment I tensed up. What? Why did she say no? I had just spent an hour and a half writing cards for these friends; I didn’t want to have to miss it now. I was certain if I presented enough reasons as to why I should be allowed to go, she would be in full support of my going. “Oh mom, I just took a long time to write each of them cards, and I’ll be back quickly. I promise! I really want to be there for them; this is a really special day.” After my perpetual begging, she told me that I had one hour to go to the three open houses.
An hour probably would have been plenty of time, if I hadn’t gotten totally lost on my way to the first open house (which was only five minutes away from our home). Somehow, I eventually found my friend’s house, fifteen minutes later. I said congratulations and asked Jill how everything was going, then, at the end of our short conversation, I got to the car quickly. Long story short, I was only able to make it to one more open house, and ended up not having a very good time there, and basically came home a teary mess.
It shouldn’t taken that rough open house for me to know that I need seek to honor my parents in the attitude I have when they say “no.” Most church kids know the verse “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1a, NKJV), but how many of us actually obey in our hearts? Outwardly, I was obeying. “Okay, I’ll be back in an hour, mom!” But I knew what my mom really wanted; she wanted me to stay home and get some things done instead of going to all those open houses. And that’s a decision I have to make each day; do I desire to honor my parents and bless them, or do I disregard their instructions and wishes?
It is my prayer that as I continue in “17”, I will, by God’s grace, not only obey outwardly, but truly honor my parents in the attitude I have. On the day of those open houses, I subconsciously thought I knew better than my mom and ignored her instructions, which landed me in a tough and painful situation. And to think that God knew all about the situation before I even stepped into it, and He led my mom to say “no” to protect me. I want to remind myself of this fact often: God is the creator of authority, and it is a very good gift. He often uses those who are over me to protect and lead me.
6. Inconsistency and Backsliding
“Yep, tomorrow’s the day! No more oversleeping; this Saturday I am going to pray for several hours!” I was determined; after failing to get on a disciplined schedule several different times, I decided that I just needed to put a bit more resolve behind it. I jumped into bed and closed my eyes, only to discover that I apparently had massive amounts of energy left over from the day. After tossing and turning for hours, I finally got to sleep. Before I knew it, my clock was making the all-too-familiar screech; was it seriously morning already? “Ok, well I am not a morning person, and I am so completely exhausted. I am just going to sleep for 30 more minutes. That’s reasonable!” Next thing I knew it was 10:30 and time for family breakfast and some chores.
What is the matter with me? I asked myself. Over and over again I would commit to rise out a habit hindering my walk with Jesus, only to find a lack of strength, resolve, and victory. I was depending on myself to break a pattern that was hurting my relationship with Him.
Romans 8:1-4 says: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (KJV).
He is the One who frees us! So often I had it in mind that I had to go at it alone, but that was not true.
I was learning in this season that I needed to train my soul to look up to His face, and stop looking inward for a solution that only He has.“The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and do.... Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus… Faith looks out instead of in and the whole life falls into line” (A.W. Tozer). 
In short, 16 was such a great year! There were obviously things I regretted doing (that’s what these two posts have been about, after all!), but there were also so many areas of growth. I encourage you not to look at these six areas I struggled as areas that you personally will absolutely and definitely struggle with; the intent of this article is to lift your eyes to the One who so faithfully refines us. God never gives up on us; when we “give up on ourselves” it’s not a matter of needing to think better of ourselves, it’s actually questioning God’s ability. I encourage you, as you walk out this exciting year on His strength, lift your eyes to Him. Instead of being baffled by the future and the many decisions to come, set your eyes on Jesus and fall all the more in love with Him.
*Names changed for anonymity
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2006), 95