I had the absolute privilege of working with a team over the past week to host, lead and serve 700 14-18 year olds in our Thirst Venue at New Wine. It was the most incredible week seeing God move and the passion of young people ignite and deepen.
On Monday night I was speaking and, I must admit, I was terrified. I prepped my talk a week or so previous but the day before felt a prompting to start my talk by reading a letter to my younger self. I felt compelled to be real and vulnerable with the young people to allow them to be real and vulnerable themselves.
The letter is by no means perfect. It's simply a couple of scribbles of thoughts in my journal! A few people expressed how powerful it was for them personally (which came as a shock to me), so I wanted to make it accessible.
I pray that it gives you hope.
"Dear my younger self,
Well done. You're navigating life pretty well, believe it or not. You may feel lost, inadequate and confused but that's ok because a lot of other people actually feel that way too. You aren't alone with your feelings and you're not an insignificant life.
14, 15, 16 etc are difficult ages. But also super exciting. Try not to get bogged down with grades, boys, popularity and image, you'll soon learn that life is so much more than that. It sounds simple but it's one of the most profound mindsets that you can adopt.
Remember that some friends will let you down, people aren't perfect. You may also let them down too. Remember that everyone is just trying their best.
You'll soon think that the perfect image in reality and on social media will give you the ultimate happiness but I'm sorry to say that it most definitely won't - the validation of others will never prove your worthiness and perfection itself is an illusion: no one gets there, no one achieves it and no one is sustained by it.
Don't worry - this isn't a dead end. You know that Jesus guy that you've learnt so much about but never known personally - well, you're gunna choose him and he's gunna change everything. He is a constant. He is perfection. He is and holds the true truth about who you are, not the false truth that the world presents. He is the centre of everything and you're privileged to have a part to play in his master-story because he calls you his masterpiece. What he says counts.
So stand firm and stick in there and seek him first. Soon your struggle will become your story and your passion will be made known to you.
And to top it all off, you'll meet friends who will stick by your side for life. You'll build real friendships that support in struggle and you'll celebrate one another's stories. Because every story is an original.
One of the most important things you'll learn - scrap that - one of the most life changing things you'll learn is that the world will be so focused on the outward appearance but it will fail you. You are so much more than your appearance. Don't strive to be pretty. Strive to be pretty compassionate, pretty humble, pretty patient, pretty passionate and pretty loving. Assess the condition of your heart, not your face or body.
You are enough.
Over time the bruises will begin to heal. And as you get to know God more personally, you'll grow in the assurance that what he says counts. You'll soar. You'll dream. You'll be ok. You'll be more than ok. You'll be doing life with the creator of life itself. And it has been, is and will continue to be the greatest adventure of all.
Love from your slightly older self x"
There goes. I hope that has been helpful for you in some way.
I am buzzing to continue to work on my book for teenage girls in the next couple of months will explores some of these themes in more detail. Girls need hope. We need hope. Watch this space.
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