At the end of last year I was approached by a friend asking me if I’d consider participating in a project she was working on, centring around what people would say to their younger self, their teenage self.
This question has come up again over recent weeks and I have to confess that finding an answer to it was a difficult process for me. And what has emerged is a letter; half warning, half prophetic declaration. For when I look back to my teen years, tainted by drug abuse, promiscuous sex and the behavioural depravity those choices would lead me to, I am not proud. There are things I would do differently, choices I would make differently.
However, I have a practically perfect teenage son, who was born out of those less than perfect circumstances. He is a joyful reminder of my redemption.
Had I not taken the path I did, my son would not exist.
How then, can I say that I’d encourage myself to change that path when doing so would erase his existence?
I am who I am today, because of those experiences, and more importantly, the immeasurable grace that Father God provided me to escape them.
It is due to this inner conflict that this post may seem to be a complete contradiction. For this I apologise, as I lack the literary prowess to distract you from it. Truth be told, if I carried such prowess, I’m not sure I’d use it to divert you. So instead I own it, and acknowledge the contradiction of writing to my younger self in the hope that I might heed my own advice, and yet knowing I don’t really want for the past to be changed.
Humbly, I ask you to bear with this contradiction, with me, for we all carry within ourselves some degree of inconsistency, however firmly we may object to its existence.
To my precious 15yr old self,
1. If you grasp one thing, let it be this: God’s guidelines are not to restrict you, they aren’t to prevent you from having fun. They are designed to protect you from yourself and the side effects of your own rebellion.
God has given you an instruction manual; His word. Read it. Heed it. It’s for your benefit, not His!
He doesn’t need you, but He wants you.
You were created by Him, and for Him. For a purpose, one you’ll discover as you draw near to your Father God. He has created an identity for you, but it can only be found in Him.
2. You need to know that the choices you make today, will affect a generation you cannot yet see. But you will see them, and you’ll care about them more than you’ve ever cared about anything in your entire life.
When you begin to realise that some of their pain is due to your selfish, seemingly harmless choices, it will damn near kill you with regret. And whilst God will absolutely provide the grace for you to deal with such regret, it is best to avoid unnecessary hurt in the first place.
3. The very first time a boy/man disrespects yo, or even speaks disrespectfully around you: WALK. AWAY!
You think it’s fun to be ‘one of the boys’, but subjecting yourself to degrading speech, filled with sexual innuendo, will initiate a subtle decline of your own self-respect.
It is you who must to set the standard for how people are required to treat you.
You need to set the standard of self-respect. Those who are worthy of your time will comply, those who do not, are not worth keeping around you.
4. You are beautiful.
You have a beautiful young body yet unmarred by age, neglect, abuse and childbearing.
Men notice you, they want you.
But sweetheart, they’re not noticing your beauty as merely the outside packaging of an entire, whole person, one with a sharp mind and beautiful spirit. They’re viewing you as an object.
The sexual power you carry is not for this time. It is for a time when it can be paradoxically unbridled and yet tamed within the safety and exquisitely divine mystery of marriage.
The power you feel through the use of seduction, is not power at all, it is weakness against yourself. Weakness, because you are not honouring yourself for who you are, created in the image of God. Weakness, against others also as you choose not to honour them for who they are.
You give away your power by accepting a false sense of value and self-worth from men who see nothing more than what they want; an outlet for their physical need.
You think you’re in control.
You think you’re not getting hurt.
You think you have the upper hand, after all you can bend them to your will.
But, there is a trade off.
If you choose this path, there will be an exchange, and it is you who will end up short-changed.
Whether you believe it or not, won’t deminish the truth that you are giving away a piece of yourself in order to gain a compliment, a lustful look, a touch, a kiss, an embrace, anything that makes you feel like you’re worthy of attention, even momentarily. The more you give away, the less that’s left.
Those momentary affirmations dissipate and they can’t compensate for the hole you are creating. You will be left feeling empty.
5. Oh, how I want to tell you not to touch that first drug. Yet I will not. Instead I shall say, you were one of the few who come out alive. (To others reading this, tempting the odds; Don’t take the chance. It’s not worth it, the price is simply too high.)
The gaping void of emptiness you created will scream out, demanding to be filled.
You’ll let more men use you, though you’ll swear with conviction that it is you using them.
The void grows further still and you’ll attempt to fill it with alcohol to no avail.
You’ll snort cocaine, swallow ecstasy, crush pills, snort pills, take trips, smoke weed….
Finally, the void will appear to be silent, no longer crying out, so long as you’re kept numb.
When the void whimpers, you’ll fill your nostrils with speed.
You’ll become addicted and thre times a day, you’ll need that frenetic high. You’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it. You’ll degrade yourself then hate yourself. You’ll search for an outlet for this hatred and you’ll find with a blade to you skin.
The blood makes you feel human but that’s the problem; it makes you feel.
Now the scars aren’t just spiritual, emotional, psychological, they’re physical too.
They cannot be hidden.
6. Healing will come. Eventually. But the healing journey will prove almost as painful as the journey of destruction, perhaps even more so, as this time the emotions are not anaesthetised by a cocktail of contraband.
Strangly it is different this time, the pain has purpose; the void is genuinely, miraculously being filled, not just silenced.
Along the way, you’ll meet people who are a few steps behind you in their journey. You’ll go back to where they’re at, but this time it’s not to participate in the destruction, it is to hold their hand and bring them up to where you are.
This new purpose; journeying with people, speaking life into their spirit, will propel you forward. You’ll recognise that if one person shows wisdom enough to heed your words of warning, avoiding repetition of your mistakes, if you spare just one person the pain of ignoring their true value and self worth, then it has all truly been worth it.
7. Babe, stop trying to prove yourself. Some people will like you, some will not.
Either way, you’re okay.Their opinion of you, doesn’t change who you are in Jesus, who you were created to be.
Who you are right now is enough.
You are worthy of love, God says so.
You are worthy of respect, God says so.
You are loved, You are precious, You are unique, God says so.
(*Adult Bek might want to let this one soak in a little longer also!)
In a world full of people shouting messages of who you should be, who you could be, trying to sell you everything you need to be special, God says you already are!
Shut the deceptive voices out and make His voice the loudest!
As you walk with Father God and allow Him to make you all that He created you to be, you will find hidden within your spirit, gifts and talents that you can’t even imagine!
You will have the opportunity to use them, but you will have to let go of the fear of what people will think. No really, let it go.
When His voice becomes the loudest in your life, it will give amplification to your own, slowly giving you the platform for it to be heard.
You’ll no longer be silent, you’ll use your voice to speak for those who are not yet free.
Finally to those of you reading this, who may feel as though you need a ‘shock testimony’ in order to make a difference, in order to relate to people; It’s a lie.
Don’t believe it.
Jesus was perfect, sinless, yet He was able to relate to, reach out, impact and transform the lives of those who were deemed unworthy by the religious folk at the time because, He was “moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36 & Matthew 14:14).
He had a firm revelation of the Father’s Heart and will! He hurt because His people hurt.
He knew His purpose.
Seek the Father’s heart, let your heart beat in time with His, and then prepare to impact the lives of those around you!
I’d love to hear in the comments below, what advice, if any you would give your younger self?