Jared and I are coming out of 15 years of student ministry this month. It is hard to wrap my brain around not having teenagers play such a huge role in our lives anymore. However, it doesn’t change our warm affection for them. We respect the challenges they face and recognize the difficulty of maneuvering through life as a teenager. We have had the honor to know and journey alongside some godly young men and women through these 15 years. It isn’t easy and we are so proud of who they are. There is a particular young women that has recently started her own blog about her journey with Christ. I asked Eliza Capps to share her story on the blog today. I’m sure you will hear a reflection of your own heart as you read the words of this precious 17-year old. I found myself smiling as I read her words, knowing that I share some of the same struggles so many years later.
I’m a teenage girl who has had her struggles. My struggles caused me to believe the Devil’s lies–I wasn’t good enough or that I had no worth, that I had made too many mistakes to ever be good enough. And you want to know something? At first when I heard them, they were just words, but as I grew farther, and farther away from Christ, I began to believe these lies as truth.
There was an entire season in my life where my emotions centered around one thing, wanting to be accepted, wanting to be more than what I was. Looking back that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it is the truth. I was so concerned about whether I was good enough or worthy enough that I lost sight of the ONE THING that mattered…Christ. That season was a roller coaster of emotions. One minute I was happy, and the next I would be at a new low place in my life. As this year continued, I began to sink lower and lower to a place I’d never been before. Yet, on the outside everything seemed fine. I’d get up every morning and cover all the pain that was inside with a fake smile, makeup, and clothes. NO ONE knew the battle I was fighting within making it that much worse.
One weekend my church went on a retreat. While there, the speaker asked us some questions that were supposed to make us think. The one that got me was… “Who or what are you living your life for?” See I grew up in a Christian home, going to church every single Sunday, so I knew the ‘church’ answer to this question. God. The answer to the question should be–God. Yet, I also knew, in that moment, that wasn’t the case. In fact it was far from it. I had lived for myself because I wanted so badly to have what everyone else around me had. That was the moment when I decided things needed to change. I needed to wake up.
I realized this discontentment in where I was, needed to be given to God. At M-Fuge, a speaker challenged us to write what we were struggling with on an index card, pray over it/give it God, rip it up, and throw it in the trash cans on the front of the stage. I did. For the first time in a long time, the weight of those struggles were completely lifted off my shoulders. It felt good. For the first time, I was free. God answered my prayer. I was content in who I was in Him. My burden was/is lifted.
Looking back I wasted an entire season of my life wandering around trying to be accepted by the world. But the thing is, during those times I wasn’t focused on what God wanted me to be. I was so consumed with what the world thought that I failed to stop and focus on God’s plan. God’s taught me that I am where I am for a purpose.
I often catch myself waiting for the weekend, looking forward to school breaks, or looking for the next big thing in life. God has shown me that the solution to my discontentment could never be found in the things of tomorrow or the next season in life, but in Christ alone. When we focus on what we don’t have or whose approval we don’t receive, we lose the experiences that our current season was supposed to show us. We miss the blessing of the here and now. He wants us to experience His plan, right now.
“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.” -Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
Question: Is there something in your life that distracts you from the purpose of living for God? Has there been a stronger desire in your life for something besides your desire for more Jesus? What words of encouragement would you have for a teenager girl like Eliza as she seeks to make Jesus her main desire?