Lately, I’ve had reason to look back into my middle and high school years and self. And those are the words that come to mind:
Girl, don’t be so afraid.
This past weekend we celebrated my only niece’s 13th birthday with a blessing brunch, we dubbed it. My encouragements (things I would’ve told my 13-year-old-self today) to her were:
- You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, and not everyone will like or love you, and that’s okay.
- You will never regret choosing Jesus and His way of doing things, over the temptations, tendencies, and promotions of the world.
In all honesty, I walked through middle school and early high school years timidly, paralyzed with fear of making a mistake or being thought of as out of the culture-loop. I was insecure about my appearance because I was afraid of being confident and feeling beautiful exactly as I was, believing the lie that comparison was better. I was afraid of letting the weight of who I was – my hopes, dreams, quirks, passions, interests – bear on those around me, for fear that I’d be judged or put on the spot.
I didn’t idolize the ‘popular group,’ or even want to be one of them, but I did want to blend in, and be someone other people wanted to be around.
When it came to sports, even though I was a competitor in my favorite sport (track and field), I often played afraid, unsure of myself, wanting to avoid discomfort but still contribute to the team. I practiced and played nervous most of the time. I worked for my own glory, because I thought ‘good’ meant coaches, family, and friends were pleased and proud. This meant I was held up by others’ compliments or affirmation, not by the reality God had given me a gift of a healthy body and a passion for running. Exhausting, fearful, and shallow, let’s be honest.
You know what I realize now? Something I desperately wish I had known then:
Even though fears are present, so is Strength.
If I could tell that curly-haired, athletic, quirky, emotional girl something then, it would be this:
You are afraid, paralyzed of not being smart enough, funny enough, fast enough, clever enough, and you’re letting it stop you from fully living. Stop. What you have to offer the world, the person you are right this minute, is exactly what God wants from you!
You are strong because the Spirit of God resides inside you. You can handle a mean girl, you can be completely happy without a boy to daydream about, you can dig deep for that extra 10% on the track and strive for your best, you can wear clothes you want and listen to music that you like… the choice is yours. Turn your back to the lies of comparison and shallow satisfaction. You have the capacity to be strong because you surrender to Jesus, and He works with you to make His glorious plans for you come to pass. Don’t be afraid of confidence and beauty. Be refreshing to others with the Light inside you!
Don’t let your choices drip with anxiety because you aren’t sure people will come alongside you, or because the future is uncertain. God provides. He champions you and cheers you. Before you get out of bed you are loved, accepted, and forgiven, no matter what other humans say or how they react to you. Don’t walk around with an anchor of fear when God offers you freedom, joy, and courage!
Instead of clinging to feelings of fear and anxiety, ask God to help you let go to grasp all the amazing, better-than-you-can-believe wonders He wants to work out in your life for His glory.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, Leaving behind the fear of man
With Christ the truth I will agree, Forsaking lies that come for me
On Christ the rock I lay my dreams, Come with Your fire consuming me
With Christ the rock I make my plan, Partner with Your purposes