I was a leader on a retreat this past weekend that I used to go on as a student and I had the pleasure of talking to some high school girls about things they struggle with, without even meaning to sometimes. I felt completely burdened, almost to the point of helplessness, because the things they deal with or believe about themselves were not things I could fix and I’m a fixer, so this was difficult. It was just a huge tornado of things culminating to create this rainstorm of unworthiness they let themselves sit in. And it’s sneaky too. Some of them don’t even realize how blinded they’ve been by difficulties and doubts and lies that society crams down their throats. With that being said, I’m going to break it down for you, my high school ladies & anyone else who needs a little help with self-worth from time to time, and shed light on some deep lies because I love lists and I think this might be one of the easier ways to get this across to you (keep in mind, some of these things are truths that I have to repeat to myself on a daily basis, so if they don’t hit immediately, don’t feel defective).
- Ladies. Ladies. Ladies. Let’s talk about respect. Plain and simple: don’t respect yourself and, odds are, he probably won’t respect you either, but respect yourself and he will respect you and if he doesn’t, then goodbye. This is also true for your lady peers, respect yourself and you’re almost guaranteed to get it in return. It is 150% okay to walk away from someone who makes you feel insignificant. It’s hard, but do it. Walk the heck away when you are not being respected. That’s all. That’s all you need to know.
- Stop fighting for attention. It’s toxic. You will not find the quenching for your bottomless desire for attention at the bottom of a bottle of alcohol or in between the sheets of a boy who tells you he loves you and cheats on you with your best friend. You are probably hurting and aching for attention but you don’t call it that because you’re not sure what it is you’re actually aching for. I’ve been there, I promise I’m not speaking out of inexperience. You don’t know where the void is or where it comes from so you just cram all of these experiences down your throat thinking that surely something will fill it. You think that something temporary will permanently fill this void, but that’s not how this works. What you really long for though is the One whose love goes far beyond our understanding because He tells us we don’t have to fight for His attention. We can’t understand that kind of love.
- Stop tearing each other down. You have a God who has offered you freedom for free, but you have traded it for temporary attention or fixes that are pulling you deeper into bondage without you even realizing it. You do these things to boost your ego and cling to these temporarily attentive people or things every day, afraid that one day you’ll wake up and your reputation isn’t going to hold up or it won’t prove to be worth the fight and grit you’ve put into it.
- Start building each other up in love. This isn’t a race to the throne. This fight for attention only turns you guys against each other, but the thing is women should be for each other. People should be for each other. I don’t think there was any confusion when Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but the confusion came when you decided not to love yourself well, so how can you possibly love your neighbor well? I’ve struggled with that. We can struggle through that together.
- And I apologize if I’ve been harsh on you or called you out on your overuse of make-up or your flirting with boys, but you’ve got to understand that those comments are born out of frustration from a girl who used to believe the same lies that you do. And it comes out of a frustration of knowing how much more you deserve that you are completely blind to or that you ignore. You are settling. “Well, I don’t see a good Christian guy here so maybe I’ll just hook up with this one,” or, my personal favorite, “Maybe I can make him a Christian. Maybe he can be my project and I can bring him to Jesus.” Hear me loud and clear: that is not your job. You will not be his emotional punching bag because you want to bring him to Jesus. And you deserve more. I know how much it pissed me off when mentors would tell me things like, “One day, you’re going to find a great, Christian guy.” No, now. “You’ll find someone who treats you right.” Really? Where are they? “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” Shut up. No, but really, there are so many more fish in the sea, fish that actually have morals and don’t look at you like a piece of meat or decide to date you based on appearance. It doesn’t work like that. AND I’m not bagging on all guys, I’m not. There are some genuinely good guys out there, and I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but there are. Please trust me because I have met so many. Every guy, and girl for that matter, goes through the stupid, immature phase. Sometimes it doesn’t last that long, but sometimes it does, and unfortunately, that phase usually starts in high school. I’m very sorry about that, but the way you try to get attention sometimes is attracting those immature guys that don’t actually deserve your time. They don’t. Plain and simple. (Refer back to #1).
Now, I know I might’ve gone all Tina Fey on you, like the scene in Mean Girls where she gives them a lecture and then makes them affirm each other and dive into a big pile of girls, but Tina had a point. All of these things are points that you aren’t reminded of in your everyday life, but you should be, oh boy, you should be. If I could print these out and pass them around every day of my life, I would. You see, my goal isn’t to get certain ratings or achieve a certain amount of likes on this blog. My goal is this: I strive to show young girls how worthy they are when the world tells them they’re not. I strive for this because I was once in a situation that instilled every lie you could ever hear into me and I felt unworthy and insignificant and completely vulnerable in the worst sense of the word. I want to show you guys what it actually looks like to live in the light because living in lies is dark and lonely and I wouldn’t wish that upon anybody. These are not unattainable goals or just dreams that go through your head but never actually happen. I’m not saying it’s not normal to feel these things, but you are allowed to shed light on darkness and stop doing these things because it’s just a cycle. When you think these things are only affecting you, you’re wrong. Girls look up to you, all the time. You are someone’s role model, whether you are doing things in love or not, people are looking up to you. I don’t say this to scare you, but I say it because it’s true. You are someone’s role model.
There is a God who loves you beyond your understanding. There is a Father who wants more for you than disgusted mirror stare downs and one nights stand and constantly passed judgments, for yourself and for other women. He wants more for you because you deserve so much more. He calls you His daughter. The King of this entire universe calls you His. The same Creator who placed each of the stars in the sky and created each grain of sand formed you in your mother’s womb and knows every little detail about you, down to every last strand of hair on your head. How treasured does that make you feel, that the Creator & Perfecter of our faith will never let you stray too far from His loving embrace? He will never gaze at you with anything less than awe and beauty.
You have a thirst that cannot be quenched and that is normal. But make sure you understand what it is you’re thirsting for, and that’s Jesus. Always and only Jesus.
For the Lord is, He is able. He is faithful, higher than the mountains that I face. Every season, I will press on, for God alone is on the throne. Glorious. Victorious. Sovereign over all. On the throne. Infinite. Magnificent. Reigning over all.
Sometimes, I need to be told when to stop talking. I will be the first to admit that. I need to be told when to stop rambling or trying to find my point because I got lost after I found it about 10 minutes ago. And that is something I’m learning to live inside of and be comfortable in, much like I’m learning to get comfortable, and even fall in love with, being in God’s perfect grasp. I’m learning how to be comfortable with a lot of things; not complacent, but comfortable.
I’m learning pain. I was deep deep deep in it a few months ago, but now I’m learning what it looks like to navigate it and find understanding from the outside, and it’s actually beautiful. I know I might have lost you with that last little bit and you’re probably thinking, “Is this girl actually okay?” And I am! I am okay! Pain is a beautiful reminder of the dependency we should have with God. Yes, we might mistake it for distance or God’s silence, but we can also take captive these moments and find ourselves in the most intimate times with the very One who created us.
I’m a fixer. I’m also a runner. These two things don’t make for a good combination. If I can’t fix it, I run from it. I want to fix it. I want to know every single thing and feeling and decision within a situation so I can work my problem solving magic and fix things. But people aren’t technology or office tasks that are easy to problem-solve. People are people and people are broken. You might think you’re finally starting to figure someone out so you can finally help them live in brokenness with you but then you’re thrown a curveball of manipulation or a change of heart or a change of feelings. But when you finally realize that circumstances will always change and God will always stay constant, the quicker you will be able to just sit down and delight in the brokenness that God has called us into. Plain and simple. Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Not, “Rejoice with those who rejoice if they haven’t stabbed you in the back or mourn with those who mourn unless they’ve manipulated you.” Just rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
People are going to mess with you, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. People are going to manipulate and sway and pull and straight up walk over you like a doormat. And you can let them. Or you can get up and say, “No. Sorry. I’m not playing the victim.” You can navigate life as the victim or you can choose to take control of your own life and stop blaming your actions on the circumstances around you (I’ve been in both, but trust me when I say the latter is probably your best bet). Instead, you can thank God for putting air in your lungs and waking you up this morning. You can thank God that He has promised to never leave you, and if you pause and look around, you’ll see that He still hasn’t. Congratulations. You can thank God for everything that has led you to where you are, be it good or bad, but you are here and you are whole and you are alive. And if that isn’t something to be grateful about, I’m not sure what is.
He is good. He is not an earthly version of good, but He is His version of good, thank God. Thank God that we don’t set up the parameters for good. Thank God that we don’t get those choices. Thank God that He will always be constant and never fail to be good to us. Constant goodness. Constant thanksgiving. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.