Being a teenager is such a hard thing to be. My husband is a high school teacher, and he sometimes shares with me the latest "teen drama" happening in his classroom. We'll often laugh, but not in disbelief. More like, "Oh yeah, I remember when I was that hormone-driven, angsty person, too.” The brains, emotions and bodies of teenagers are rapidly changing, leaving teens in an awkward place of feeling grown up in some ways but not at all in others. Reflecting on my own teen years, it’s hard not to shake my head at the incredible mistakes I made as I waded through the process of growing up.
How I wish I had had more older women in my life, speaking the kind of truth that Lindsee over at Living Proof Ministries shared with a 13-year-old daughter of a friend. She calls it Ten Truths for Teenage Girls—but I can’t help reading her list and knowing I need reminded of these things even now, well past my teen years. Here are just a few of Lindsee’s truths:
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!
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)
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.
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.
You can read the rest of Lindsee’s truths here.
As adults, it can be easy to brush aside the challenges of those teen years, forgetting our own struggles during that time of life. Ross Campbell offers some great advice for parents on how we can really love our teens. Key to his advice: unconditional love in the face of whatever problems arise:
Teens keep coming back. No matter how much they say they dislike their parents, they need their emotional support for success. They desperately need full emotional tanks in order to feel the security and self-confidence they must have to cope with peer pressure and other demands of adolescent society. Without this confidence, teens tend to succumb to peer pressure and experience difficulty in upholding wholesome, ethical values.
Young people really need us to be there for them, building them up in the Lord—reminding them of their worth, their talents, their importance to the Kingdom and the love our Heavenly Father has for each of them. (Not really so different from our own needs, right?)
What piece of encouragement would you offer a teen? Here’s a challenge—find a teenager this week and share with them Lindsee’s encouragement, or your own.
For more great advice on those hard-to-handle teenage years, check out:
10 Things Every Teenager Needs to Know About Their Parents
Top 5 Ways to Keep Communicating with Your Teenager
Hope for Your Struggling Teenager
How to Help Your Teenager Develop Integrity
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.