sweet 16: sixteen lessons in sixteen years

Thursday, January 7, 2016
Today, January 7th, 2016, I turn sixteen. It's crazy -- I still feel twelve, or maybe even ten. Nevertheless, today is my sweet sixteen, and I was thinking about how much the Lord has taught me in these sixteen years. He won my heart seven and a half years ago, and He hasn't stopped working in me since.

Because I'm sixteen, I thought I would share sixteen lessons that God has taught me in the past few years. I think a lot of these are common myths that we trick ourselves into thinking.

1. A few good friends are better than a lot of friends. So what if you don't get three-hundred likes on your instagram post? Believe me when I say this: forever friends are better than fans. Treasure the friends you have and strive to encourage and uplift them with the love of Jesus.

2. Avoiding teenage drama is a wise decision. To be honest, I've never been "in the loop," as they say. I never know when a certain couple broke up or who broke up with who, and honestly, it's not a big deal. Spreading joy is better than spreading rumors. :)

3. You don't need to be an athlete to be cool. It may be a southern thing, but more often than not, the most popular kids are athletes. The football quarter back is usually worshiped; volleyball players are swooned over; everybody loves the kid who made a slam dunk at the school basketball game. If you are an athlete, that is a wonderful thing, and it's awesome that you are gifted in that area. But if you're a complete klutz like me, that is a-okay. I tried sports. In eighth grade, I played right end of the bench in soccer. Then, by the grace of God, I found out that I had sort of a knack for words, and here I am today. You do you, kid; be who God made you to be. 

4. True confidence cannot come from yourself. I know what it's like to look in the mirror every day and try to motivate yourself, to try and convince yourself that you look pretty and that people like you, and it doesn't work. True confidence can't come from yourself. It can't come from the way you look or talk or how smart you are. True confidence comes from God alone -- His redeeming and transforming grace, the assurance that even though you're not good enough, Jesus became good enough for you -- that is where confidence comes from.

5. Holding grudges hurts you more than the other person. I confess, there are people at my high school that I just flat out don't like. There are people that I've known since preschool who have left scars so deep that I cringe when I look at them. I'm really good at holding grudges, and oh, how miserable of a life it is. Hate for another person eats you up on the inside; it pushes you into a corner that only God's grace can get you out of. Don't go there. Instead, ask Him for the strength to love others. 

6. Trying to please yourself is nothing but tiring. Chasing after what you want, running away from God, only digs you deeper into the pit of sin. I've strayed from God's plan and gone after my own, and it may seem exhilarating at first, but it leaves you scared of the future and bitter about the past. Living in God's grace lets you forget the bad parts of the past and lets you trust in God for the future.

7. Sleep is important. Algebra is important, I know. And that book you're reading might be really good. Every once in a while, it's totally okay to pull an all-nighter, but it's important -- really important -- to get a good night's sleep. 

8. Good eating habits are important. Losing twenty pounds by starving yourself is not worth it, okay? I can guarantee that not everyone in the world is as small as you think they are. Don't starve yourself for the sake of looking "good." There's an opposite extreme, though: stress eating and eating because you're bored isn't the route to take either. God wants us to take care of our bodies because He wants us to have high-quality lives. Don't idolize good eating habits or anything, but practicing them is important.

9. Sometimes, you study your butt off and still get an F, and that is okay. Too often I sulk over a bad grade; I cry and scream and get angry, and it doesn't make me feel better. Every once in a while, you're going to make a bad grade, and you have to shake it off and try your best next time.

10. Popularity doesn't satisfy. I can guarantee you -- in fact I can nearly see it in their eyes -- that those popular girls aren't perfect, and their lives aren't either. They carry as much baggage as you do, if not more. Someday, when you stand before God and He asks you why you should be let into the gates of heaven, "the whole world knows my name" is not a good enough response. Only by acknowledging and confessing your sin and accepting Jesus' gift of salvation will suffice. So next time you're not at the populars' lunch table, don't stress, okay?

11.You can't do it all. High school has a lot to offer with various clubs and sports teams, but filling your schedule isn't a smart idea. Getting home at 6:00 every day with hardly any time to do your homework isn't all its chalked up to be. If you've learned how to balance it, I envy you, but if you're struggling with too many items on your schedule, maybe it's time to decide what you really want to pursue.

12.Ignoring sin makes it worse. "I'll confess later." I've had that thought before. Many times I've tried to push a sin so far back in my mind that I forget about it. It doesn't work. Get it right with God right away. When you're in Christ, He looks on you with nothing but grace. To ignore sin is to ignore grace.

13.Sometimes, God wrecks your plans to show you His plan. I love the line of a song by Josh Wilson: "I find you when I fall apart." Sometimes, we build up plans so high that it blocks us from our relationship with God and others. Sometimes, He'll knock down those walls so you can see the path He has laid out for you. 

14. Chasing after guys isn't all it's chalked up to be. In the end, guys are just normal people, just like me and you. Chase after God first, and He'll lead you to who you need to be with. I haven't reached this point in my life, obviously, but I'm trusting in God and waiting for His timing.

15. Investing in people is so important. We've only got one life. Think about this: with eternity in the picture, is it more important to chase after that dream of yours or to pursue people and share the Gospel with them? Think about how amazing the new earth will be. There we will live life how it was originally meant to be lived, so here we need to take the time to point others to Jesus. 

16. JESUS IS BETTER. Whatever the world has shoved in your face, whatever dream you've made for yourself that's keeping your from Jesus, whatever person seems to be captivating your thoughts right now, Jesus is better. HE is ultimate satisfaction. In Him, you will find everything you've needed and everything you've ever needed.

I've still got a long way to go in this life, Lord-willing. I have so many lessons to learn and so many people to come into contact with. With Jesus in my life, I have so much to look forward to, and I can face the future audaciously, knowing Who holds it.

What has God taught you in your years of knowing Him? I'd love to hear from you and be encouraged by you!


  1. This is goodness. I feel refreshed just reading this list. So many good reminders ­čśŹ Happy 16th!!!!!!

    1. Thanks Olivia!! I'm so glad to encourage you!!

  2. Oh, wow. These reminders are SOOO good. I can personally connect to nearly every single one of them: seriously I think I could write you a book in response to this post, but I'll try to keep it simple.
    "Ignoring sin makes it worse".
    It's so true: when i know I have sinned and I just put it on the back burner, I just feel HORRIBLE. It's never good to just ignore sin, because it is basically not taking care of something you have committed against the King of Kings. I can so relate to you on this one!
    Happy Birthday, darling! I hope you have a wonderful year, and may God continue to grow you in his wisdom...this post is already evidence of the wisdom he has already given you!

    1. I'm so glad you read this, Laur! You're so encouraging to me, and I'm so glad we can encourage each other!

      And thank you! It has been a wonderful day, and I can't wait to see what God is going to do this year!