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A Letter to My Teenage Self

Dear Teenage Paige,

This letter is living proof that you do, indeed, survive High School. I know sometimes it feels like you won’t, but I promise, you do. I know the struggles that you’re facing deep within your heart right now, and I want to share ten things that I think will help you navigate this better. Being you, about a decade later, I know what you need to know. At least, some of what you need to know. I’m still learning a lot and have a long way to go…

You may not like everything I have to say. Just hear me out. 

1.    It won’t be this way forever. I know you feel trapped. Stuck in classes and schedules that often don’t feel like they will benefit your dreams. To be honest, many of the things on your tests won’t benefit you in the future. But the discipline you’re learning and the character you’re building from working hard to achieve something are essential tools that will be invaluable to you for the rest of your life. I know you want to jump out of your skin sometimes because you’re dying to fast-forward to the life-changing things you want to do. But let me tell you… the way you spend your days right now is currently shaping your future life. So be careful and wise. And know this season is truly short.

2.    Protect your heart just as much as your body. I know you’re all focused on protecting your body right now from sexual promiscuity and THAT’S A GOOD THING!!! Keep it up!! But your focus on solely protecting your body in relationships is causing you to more freely give away your heart. Your words can create ties to another person’s heart that you’ll have to undo later when you realize they weren’t the person you were going to marry. If you focus on guarding your heart first, above all else, you will find it even easier to guard your body too. It’s not meant to be a legalistic thing. God is trying to protect, preserve you and keep you whole. It will be so worth it when you marry the amazing man God has for you… I would know!!! “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23

3.    The opinions of people you are trying to impress now won’t matter AT ALL later. I cannot stress this enough. You know the “cool” kids who you want to think you’re cool? You never see them again. And… I may or may not have noticed, the cool kids don’t always end up being cool later…

4.    Don’t be a flirt. I know you fervently believe you’re not a flirt, but… you are. You secretly want every guy to like you – or at least, to think you’re pretty. Calm down! Keep reading. I know in your heart you don’t want to be this way. But there’s a difference between not wanting to be that way, and still actually being that way. You are a people pleaser, but you do not need everyone to like you. Your desire for this is not in line with God’s Word and you are unknowingly toying with other people. Some guys will think just because you’re nice to them that you like them – this is not your fault. Just make every effort not to lead guys on in order to maintain a pure heart and to not hurt others.

5.    What you do now DOES matter. Be strong. In your heart you know this, and you have deeply strong convictions. But there’s that little voice that keeps whispering in your ear at very unhelpful moments telling you the teenage lie… “You’re young. Live it up! You don’t have to be such a good girl. You’ll have plenty of time to get it together later.” This is a lie. Stand firm in your convictions! You will not regret this later! You will only regret when you didn’t. Every small choice you make now walks you into your future… the one where I stand.

6.    Not all the authority in your life is right. But you still need to respect it. Not everything you’re being told by authority is true. In fact, you’ll go through some painful seasons in the future working to undo the damaging affect that some of it had on you. Regardless, graciously respect everyone in authority over you. (You know that’s what God wants.) But, also know that God wants to be your ultimate source of Truth and authority. Test the things you’re told against His Word in the Bible. His truth is unchanging and will never lead you the wrong way or build up things that you’ll have to tear down later.

My brother Scot, and two sisters (missing my brother Josh)
My brother Scot, and two sisters (missing my brother Josh)

7.    Your guy heartbreaks are actually God protecting you. I know many times you’ve felt like you were “too much” or “not enough” for someone. Just know that the relationships that haven’t worked out are God’s grace in your life! They were never meant to be your husband! Those guys are good people – but if you could see from where I stand now, you would see so clearly how your lives have gone in completely different directions. You were not meant to be with them. As you seek God’s guidance in who to marry, know that He doesn’t just match up people, He matches up callings and destinies. They are meant to fit together in the most intricate way, that only He can set up. Trust that He knows what He’s doing and stop beating yourself up about how “you could have been better”, or “more” or “less”. Paige, you are enough. In fact you are just right for that very specific man that you one day meet.

8.    ENJOY the freedom and fun of this season in your life. Yes, I just said freedom. I know you feel like there are tons of boundaries around you, but you have so much more freedom than you realize. You have TIME! Once you are married and have kids, you’ll look back with green envy on all the free time you used to have. Use this time to hardcore pursue those gifts and God-given passions. It will pay off later… trust me! And most of all, spend time with Jesus.

9.    Pay more attention in history class. It’s the one class that you wish you could remember more from.

10.  It gets good. Really good. You actually get to do most of the things that are currently written on your “dreams list”. Not even a decade later! So dream bigger. I’m not gonna tell you that it’s all “happily ever after”, because the truth is, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. Incredible ups and excruciating downs. But it’s okay, because you learn a lot from it and keep going. God never lets you down. In fact, all the things that you thought you lost, God actually gives back to you in a greater portion. He restores more than you ever lost. So relax, dear girl. You worry too much. It really is all going to be okay.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36