If I could write a letter to my teenage self, here are five things I would say:
1. “Your life is a story. Enjoy every chapter.”
-The temptation to ‘look ahead’ is always there in our lives. It’s like we’re constantly thinking about the next thing instead of enjoying the present moment. “If I could just get my license,” or “If I could just skip to summer,” Or “If I could just graduate already,” THEN I’d be happy. To my teenage self: Stop looking ahead, and enjoy today. Life is so short, and if you don’t start taking in every experience like you should, you’ll have major regrets one day. EVERY situation in your life will have pros and cons. You’ll enjoy a lot of things about getting out of high school. But guess what? You’ll miss a lot of things about it too. The “best years of your life” should always be the present. Every day is a gift. Every breath is a gift. You are blessed beyond measure, so act like it!
2. “You’re not in love.”
-Even though you’ve “never felt this way before” about someone, and even though she’s the “first person you think of when you wake up”…. You’re still not in love. You’ll date a lot of girls. You’ll break some hearts, and you’ll get your heart broken many times as well. But please understand something- You won’t know what love really is until much later in life. True love is not what you see on TV. True love is not being attracted to someone. True love is not just about missing someone, or wanting to be with them all the time. True love is actually about sacrifice, commitment, it’s a choice, and it’s about giving your entire life to another person. Stop pretending like you can actually give that kind of love to someone else as a teenager. It’s just not possible. Think about all the times you thought you were “in love”, only to be completely fine a few weeks later after breaking up. One day, you’ll understand what love is. So in the meantime, don’t make stupid mistakes in your relationships. One day, God’s going to bring someone into your life at the perfect time. (His timing, not yours.) When that time comes, you and her will agree to not even say “I love you” until the day you get engaged. Why? Because you’ll both understand that this kind of love is a choice that you’re both making for the rest of your lives, and not something to be taken lightly.
3. “High school drama won’t last. Kingdom impacts will.”
-It’s going to be hard for you to understand this one, but trust me when I say: When you get out of high school, you’ll only keep in contact with a handful of the kids you grew up with. And that won’t just be true for you. It’s true for just about everybody. So here’s some advice: Stop worrying so much what these people think about you. Yeah, everybody wants to be liked. Everybody wants to have friends and be popular. But you’re never going to please everybody. You’re always going to have critics. And all of these people that you’re trying to impress will just become distant memories when you get older. Some of the best advice I could ever give you: Don’t care what people think about you, but DO care what they think about God. High school will fly by and it will then be gone. So use that as motivation- Impact lives while you’re there. “Make the most of every opportunity” like the Bible says. Be the light that your high school desperately needs, but remember that your work is for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)
4. “Comparing yourself to others is one of the dumbest things you can do.”
Your life has a very specific purpose. You’ll be tempted to envy what others have, and you’ll be tempted to take for granted what you DO have. But the truth is, you’re just the clay, and the Potter is the one that chose how to mold you (Romans 9:20-21). If you want to compare yourself to others all the time, you’ll never find contentment, and you’ll be chasing after dreams that were never meant for you. Jon Foreman says: “If comparison is the thief of joy, then our culture is being robbed blind.” He’s right. Don’t rob yourself of the life your Maker gave specifically to you by comparing yourself to others.
5. “Every talent you have is for a purpose.”
Your ability to put a ball through a hoop, or to strike a batter out has nothing to do with you. Yeah, you have worked hard to be able to do those things, but those talents were still given to you by God for a reason. Any talent you have gives you a platform. You can either use it to make much of yourself, or you can use it to make much of Jesus. Take all of the things you enjoy and are good at- Now put those talents to use (Matthew 25:14-30). Even your weaknesses are for a purpose (2 Corinthians 12:9), so stay humble in all things. Live your life by this phrase, and everything else will fall into place: “He must become greater, I must become less.”