Friday, September 14, 2012
I can’t remember how I stumbled across Emily Freeman’s blog, but I feel like I have been reading it forever. I find myself nodding along and wiping away tears at almost every post. She truly has a way with words. Well, last year she wrote a book that rocked my world…and now she has done it again. This time, for young girls—I’m talking teenagers. And all those people with a heart for teenage girls said AMEN!! I’ve only had the chance to read the first few chapters, but whoa…it’s good. I can hardly wait to get this book in the hands of my girls…and journey through it with with one or every single small group of girls that I lead from here on out! It’s a winner for sure.
This week on her blog. she has gotten different people to post letters to their 15 year old self, and today she is hosting a little link up for all that want to join. I’m not usually one for jumping on the link-up bandwagon, but something inside me told me that I needed to. After all, teenage girls are my people. Then I started writing, and whoa, it was difficult. I mean, it wrecked me. When I think back to high school, there were so many WONDERFUL memories, but if I think about it long enough, there is so much yuck in there too. Thankfully, I have grown and learned from much of it, but if almost 28 year old me could speak into 15 year old me, I would do it in a heartbeat, and it would go something like this…
Make a B. That’s right, I said make a B. No need to freak out, I didn’t say make all B’s, one will be just fine. Just make the B. Doing your best is important, but you have gotten to the point where you are no longer just doing your best, you have created an idol out of your grades. Unfortunately, the idol will continue through college and it will take you starting Seminary to get over it. It’s not worth all those years of A’s. More importantly, it’s not worth all of the effort to make it appear to the outside world that you are perfect and have it all together. You don’t, and you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. So, just make the B. You may get in trouble for it, but the trouble will be much shorter lived than the ramifications of the perfectionist idol you have created for yourself.
Keep babysitting. I know people think you’re weird because you would rather spend your Friday and Saturday nights changing diapers, playing board games and coloring. Let them think that. You know you love it and you know you’re good at it. In the years to come, you’ll enjoy it even more and people will really start to think you’re weird. Just keep baby-sitting. You know that having younger kids watching your every move keeps you on the right track, and the families you’ll get to meet will be part of your life for years to come. Let the people say what they want to say about you, baby-sitting is your thing…and that is mighty okay!
Tough love is just that…TOUGH. During the next year, a situation will come up where you will have the opportunity to choose to keep your mouth shut and go with the flow, or offer tough love to a friend. You will pray about it for months and will decide that it is more important to be honest with your friend and you will give the tough love. While you know it will be hard, nothing will be able to prepare you for what will happen next. Choosing that tough love will cause one of your dearest friends to stop talking to you, and in turn it will totally turn your social world upside down. You will often doubt if it was worth it…or if you did the right thing. First, let me say kudos to you for following through on what you knew the Lord wanted you to do. You learned a lot through that experience. You learned what it meant to earnestly seek the Lord. You learned how hard it is to follow in His steps. You also learned what it meant to fervently pray for a friend, and you did it faithfully for 6 years. Then, 6 years later, things worked themselves out. Your friend apologized and told you how much she appreciated you saying what you said. Your friendship was restored and you got to learn a new lesson—forgiveness and grace. So, keep seeking the Lord…and keep doing what He asks…even if it’s tough!
Tell your family how much you appreciate them. I know you may not always think they are the best thing ever, but just because you’re a teenager doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to be disrespectful. Soon you will go to college and then will get a job in the real world. You will begin to see what an absolute blessing it was to have two wonderful Christian parents and be right in the middle of an older and younger sister. No need to waste time now complaining, just be thankful.
If you want something, go for it! Don’t make your Dad threaten you within an inch of your life of moving to another state to get you to finally put your name on the ballot to run for SGA. If you want to hold an office, put your name on the list. Someone else may win, but that’s okay. You don’t always have to win to be a success.
Don’t worry about not having a boyfriend. Really. Don’t. I know you think you’ll be married with kids by the time you’re 25, but you won’t be. Heck…you’re about to turn 28 and you don’t have any real prospects. So do yourself a favor, and quit worrying about it now. Embrace the non-boyfriend life with all you have. I know there are times when a boyfriend will be all you think about, but they aren’t all they’re cracked up to me. Just trust me on this. The older and wiser you has listened to more teenagers than she can count and wiped so many tears that she should purchase stock in Kleenex! More times than not, it is because they are pouring out their broken hearts to her. Hearts that have been broken by a boy. Despite wanting to just forget the part that you have been taught about guarding and protecting your heart, don’t do it. I promise you it is worth it. It is worth it at 15…and it is still worth it now!
Most of those were pretty serious…but please don’t skip this last one. I think about it every day, and I do mean EVERY DAY.
Put some effort into learning how to fix your hair. Please…I beg of you…LEARN HOW TO USE A ROUND BRUSH!! Otherwise, you’ll be in your late twenties and won’t be able to do anything with it other than put it up in hot rollers or pull it back in a ponytail. Don’t worry, all your friends will come to you for advice on how to get the best curl…but if you keep up your lackadaisical hair ways, that will be the only thing they come to you for in the hair department! The hot roll is great, but a few other styles would be helpful.
I know this won’t fix all of your problems, but that was never my intention. Basically, that thing your mentor told you about keeping an eternal mindset…she was right. If you keep that perspective, everything else will fall into place. Even still, there will be times when you mess-up. Don’t get too hard on yourself when you do…that’s part of life. You’ll learn from the mess-ups just like you will learn from the successes, and maybe even more so.
Blessings and prayers,
The older and wiser You
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
How many times have you walked into a situation hoping and expecting one thing and then something totally different comes from it? If you’re like me, it’s a number much too high to count. While expectations aren’t necessarily bad, the problem is the disconnect that ensues between the expectations and reality often leads to confusion and discontentment.
Not making sense? How about an example? Nine years ago I was a freshman at the University of Alabama. I eagerly went through Recruitment and pledged a sorority. I had heard the stories of sorority sisters being your best friends and had even seen it in my older sisters friendships. I had great expectations that I would walk in those doors and find instant friends. The problem was, that wasn’t the case for me. I immediately doubted my decision to join a sorority. If I wasn’t going to meet my best friends there, what was the purpose? I seriously contemplated dropping out multiple times. Thankfully, I chose to listen to someone older and far wiser than me. While the conversation was years ago, I vividly remember being told that just because I thought the purpose of joining a sorority was to meet my best friends didn’t mean that it was the purpose that God had for me joining a sorority. Maybe, just maybe, He had some other things that He wanted me to learn in addition to meeting friends. At first, I didn’t want to hear it, but lots of prayer helped me to see that she was right.
Looking back, I can’t even begin to list the lessons that I learned from being in a sorority. However, even now, if I compared my expectations to what actually happened, very few things would line up. Through that experience, I truly learned the importance of taking all of my expectations and laying them at the foot of the cross. It’s fine to dream, and it’s only natural to have expectations of what will happen…but in the end, we have to take those expectations and trust that God is far greater than any of them.
I was reminded of this last night when I was talking to one of my newest “college girls.” While her situation is quite different than mine, I could tell from her words that the issue was her expectations and reality just weren’t lining up. The discontentment and doubt had practically taken over every aspect of her life. With each word, my heart ached more and more because I knew. I had been there. Even more, I knew that the area of doubt and discontentment is where the enemy loves to get the children of God because it practically paralyzes us.
Despite the tears in my throat, I encouraged her to think about her expectations, and then make the decision to erase those and replace them with the truth that God is sovereign and His plan is far greater than any of our expectations. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick fix. It doesn’t mean that things are going to be better for her overnight. But, I know that learning the truth of expectations and reality is one that will benefit for her for years to come…just as it has me.