Faithfulness in the teen years
The first story I’m excited to share in the Faithfulness In Seasons series is written by Hannah. She’s a good friend of mine whose only 13 and launched her blog earlier this year. Read on to discover what it looks like for her to faithfully follow Jesus as a teenager.
Words slipped off my tongue and rolled out into the echoing atmosphere. A hundred other voices filled the auditorium; their raised hands silhouetted in the illuminated lights.
The Joy of the Lord is my Strength! In the darkness i’ll dance; in the shadows i’ll sing; the Joy of the Lord is my Strength!
It was magical; the beauty of raw, real worship and sincerity and awe and love for Jesus wrapped in a few seconds of joy; I thought my heart would explode.
But it was just my lips singing. My heart didn’t fully understand the beautiful meaning behind eight words, slipping briskly off my tongue; were they really true in my life?
Thirteen candles. Thirteen candles adorned on chocolate goodness. Faces aglow from celebration and cake and balloons and sunshine and community and all things birthday. Thirteen years. Thirteen years past since I opened my eyes and breathed in this air. Thirteen years.
The day I blew out with a puff of air thirteen candles, plopped on that cake, I became a teenager. A teenager, the word associated with far too many negative connotations, the word people believe to describe the slothful rebels sandwiched between childhood and adulting. Yes, a teenager. The people we see have endless opportunities, a lifetime awaiting them, who, to the world's standards are meant to slack off and forget about responsibility.
A horizon, covered in dark and sunshine pushed onto the brink of the skyline.
I had sung “the Joy of the Lord is my Strength”, but was I going to live it? Through this challenging and beautiful next season, was I going to simply echo the words and forget them the minute they were lost in thin air?
As I travel this dusty road, still heaving my package of sin, still wrestling through these temptations, these doubts, these fears, joy became something I strived for. Something I strive for.
Joy had become a longing, a dream etched in a desire to live more fully, to live less fearfully. Joy was my dream.
But wasn’t I just a teenager? Wasn’t I just someone squashed between two drastic seasons of life? How could I pursue joy in Him when I wasn’t supposed to think like that? How do others hold only their smile, their joy in the battlefield? How could I pursue joy in a world peppered in negativity, of darkness? Why couldn’t I whisper that His Joy is my strength and really, truly believe it?
Today, I messed up. Today, I sinned and I regret each and every one. Today, I forgot about His joy. But today, grace lives. Today, is a Grace Day. Today is a day to celebrate.
It was here, where there was so much darkness I forgot about the sun; it was here, when I felt far from Him; it was here, when I felt unworthy of His presence and my heart was breaking and storms where rolling across the sky where He cupped my face and whispered, “I love you.”
I doubt. I get carried away in that of earthly possessions; I forget about His love for me. I doubt the beauty of our existence here on earth and care only of things I can see with my own eyes and touch with my tiny fingertips.
But His joy in His love for me, this unshakable love even when I have desperately messed up and i’m clinging by a line I broke myself, keeps me going. When I get caught up in the things we would call “just being a teenager” or the things that brought me down, He still held me.
When being a teenager contained numerous unanswered questions, a thousands doubts and broken hearts, He still held me. He still holds me. When storms cloud my fearful body, He lets roses bloom and life to flourish through the clutch of the storm.
He put me in this season to teach me. To show me that He loves me. He put me into this season to reach the people who also dub themselves ‘teenagers’ with the Gospel. To show them that He loves them.
Today, can we sing through every storm, every joy of our lives without thinking of the notion of being cliche, without thinking we’re too young or too old or too messed up or too afraid or too unknown or too unfaithful? Today, we can sing because He is faithful. He fully knows who we are. He knows how this story is going to end. And He loves you. He is carrying you through this messy joy because He loves you. Even when you can’t sing, when you can’t see it.
My heart needs to believe this. To not only watch words scatter across pages, words inkling in my mind to be scribbled across paper, dashing in strokes by the pen, but really believe. Really, truly believe that His goodness is in every step of this journey. Really believe that He has a plan. Believe that He has a plan for this ending even when my tears are falling and the world swirls too fast and stress weighs heavy on my broken heart, really believe.
Really, truly sing when i’m caught up in homework and hormones and heavy hearts and horror. Really truly sing from this broken heart. Really believe that in this darkness there is a reason for joy. Because there is. Because He is.
In the darkness i’ll dance, in the shadows i’ll sing; the Joy of the Lord is my Strength!
“Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:30-3