Growing up in this messed up world

Dear Jerry,

Growing up is hard. You deal with a huge scale of challenges. Friendships, school, work, responsibility, pretty much all of your relationships will have struggles. It’s part of the growing up process. If you say you haven’t had ANY of these problems, you might be an alien. But more likely, you just haven’t experienced them yet or maybe you are just living in denial. There’s a better than good chance that you will face some of these struggles sometime in your life, maybe more than once.

Growing up as a Christian in this messed up world is even harder. There is even more of a struggle to fight against the flow of the stereotypical teenager crowd. We might fantasize about having a perfect life. We want to get perfect grades, not fight with our family, be good at what we do, and have friends with whom you always get along.

But at some point, we have to face reality. We live in a messed up world. You are going to mess up. People will let you down. Friendships will end. You will not always get along with your siblings or your parents. You will do stupid stuff. So the question is:

How do we, as christian teenagers, not only survive but also thrive, as we deal with the process of growing up in this messed up world?

I have struggled with this question for a while. And I’m not pretending to have all the answers by writing this. I just want to share my thoughts in the hope that I could encourage others who are going through the same spot in life.

I have found that growing up in the culture today can be difficult. There are stumbling blocks waiting for you wherever you go. The store, school, movies, restaurants, books, work. The list goes on. There are things screaming out at us at every turn. You can’t even turn on the T.V. for a few minutes without a commercial coming on with a provocative, half dressed person in it. I was at a gas station recently and there were some men using very vulgar speech. It’s all around us. The devil has so many opportunities to attack christians. And when you are a young christian already dealing with all the struggles that come with growing up, you can easily become quite vulnerable.

There is not a way to just make these problems go away. We are told in the Bible that we will be persecuted and we will have trials. (2 Tim. 3:12, 1 Peter 4:12-14) But we are told they will not overcome us. (2 Cor. 4:8-11) Christ is with us even the on darkest night and the hardest day. There are three things that help me deal with struggles in this world.

1.) Go to God’s word.

When you are in rough spot in life, you need to go to God’s word. God gave us his word to use and we need to use it. When it seems like everyone and everything is going against you, the Bible can help you get a new perspective. I have a set of key verses that I go to when I am feeling frustrated and alone. I would recommend making a list, or putting some verses by your bed or your mirror, wherever you can see them and remember truth.

~ Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

~ Psalm 119:9-11
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

2.) Go to other believers.

God did not design the Christian life to be a solo act. He loves his church. We are a part of a body of believers. Go to another, probably older, believer and just be honest with them about your struggles. They can help you see truth, pray for you and build you up. Your parents can help you, even if you don’t always agree with them, they were put in your life to guide you and encourage you. Get an accountability partner to help keep you on track. You aren’t in this alone.

~ Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3.) Go to God.

We have a Heavenly Father who stands ready and willing to save us. Go to Him. He knows every struggle we have. Pray. Ask the Lord to help guide you. He will.

~ Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

~ Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.”

~ Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

~ Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I want to just leave my two of my favorites verses at the bottom. I hope God uses this to encourage anyone struggling with growing up right now. Remember truth and trust in the Lord.

– Hannah

~ 1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

~ Philippians 4:4-8
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

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