Lean in, sweet girl in the trenches of the teen years. This is for you. You: the one beginning to relate to your mom as a friend, the one beginning to wear makeup, the one navigating womanhood, the one striving to discern between friendships and extracurricular activities. I know. It feels so complicated.
I was where you are and it feels like yesterday. The teen girl I was? She is still a part of who I am, but in reality…I was a teenager half of my life ago. I fully remember that place between childhood and womanhood.
These days, I’m a mom of little boys. I have a ministry to women in a few different areas of my life and I’ve learned a few things about friendship, boys, makeup, my parents, fashion, money, and spending my soul and time wisely. I am not truly who I was at fifteen. Sweet girl, I feel for you with all of my heart. I get it. I truly do.
I’ve felt the exhausting pain of the losing days and the thrill of the winning days. Some days I’ve felt it all at the same time. The teen years are like that, sweet girl.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33
I know what it is to desire acceptance. I know what it is to be lonely and excluded. I know what it is to be misunderstood, misrepresented, betrayed, abandoned, hurt, and confused. I know how it feels when morals are called “prudent,” and I’ve felt the sting of shame for compromising morals.
Listen, sweet one: shame isn’t from Jesus. Cling to His truth instead. Learn to identify the difference between conviction and shame. Shame isn’t for you.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly exult in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
~2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Furthermore, I know what it is to buy the wrong mascara and have black marks on my face from the lower lashes. That mascara should be banished from the market forever. Don’t buy that stuff. You deserve better. There are other brands of mascara. Move right along to greener pastures, young one.
I know what it is to feel the high of being voted in, elected, crowned, and invited. I know what it is to find the perfect dress for the prom and to have someone’s jersey to wear on jersey day. I know what it is to host a great sleepover and to laugh with the funniest friends in the world. These things feel really important right now. Yeah, I totally get that. It feels like you need this. It all feels so purposeful. Oh my word. It feels necessary.
Little sister, I completely feel this for you. I can channel fifteen-year-old Courtney. The first thing that comes to mind is how thankful I was that they invented hair straighteners. (Dont judge. I have naturally curly hair. Frizz was not in style. I know you can’t imagine this…but “straighteners” didn’t exist when I became a teen. It was a different time.) When you’re fifteen and sixteen years old, these things can feel weighty and heavy and important.
You know what I wish I could tell myself at fifteen? I wish I could go back and tell myself to walk to the beat of my own drum and to be my own person. I would avoid shirts that said suggestive things (that I completely didn’t understand) from any store that looked like a hut and smelled like a teenage boys’ cologne from the outside. You know the ones. Just because the sayings are spelled out in glitter doesn’t make it any less repulsive. (Literally, my friends had to explain the saying on my shirt. Obviously my mom and I didn’t understand the lingo.) I’m pretty sure I just purchased whichever shirts I found on the Clearance rack. Is this “trend” still a thing? If not, keep moving.
I wish I could go back and tell myself to follow Jesus radically and with wild abandon. How I’d love to pick a lunch table based on who looked lonely. I picked my lunch table based on finding the least awkward seat as fast as possible. I left the lonely girl sitting by herself…and that is a far cry from the human I am becoming. When you’re fifteen, you don’t always want to be seen. You just want to slide in beside the most welcoming group of people you can spot between the Bosco sticks and the tables. I never looked back at the lonely ones. I let them be lonely. I sought out the easy path. You do better. You be the brave one, okay? Allow no one to be lonely.
If I could go back, I would prioritize girl time over boyfriend time. I had an equal balance of both…and now I know what lasted and what should have had a smaller compartment of my life. It was a learning time. Still. I skipped a few girls’ nights for dates and I’m not sure that was the best decision. Sure, some girls marry the boy from highschool. You may be surprised to find that you are not that girl. I was not that girl. The girls’ nights? You’ll never get those back. Just an FYI, sweet friend. You’ll find yourself in the wedding party of your first married friend sobbing because the sleepovers are at an end. Don’t laugh. The struggle was real.
I would spend more time encouraging the souls of others. When you’re a teenager, endless hours are lost to things that steal life-giving opportunities. Things like vanity, insecurity, and heartbreak steal hours that will never return. You can be different. Make those hours count. I made some hours count. You can do much more. Spend your minutes encouraging and loving others well. Make an eternal difference for the Kingdom of God and for the souls that fill the halls of your schools and hangouts. Use your minutes to breathe life and to spread joy.
Defend the one who is hurting. Give grace to the one who is stumbling. Link arms with the ones who can spur you on in love and teach you to live more beautifully. Be a peacemaker. Let kindness flow from your smile. Choose whatever is good. Fix your mind and heart on whatever is lovely and pure.
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” ~Phillipians 4:8
Fill your soul with treasures of good and worthy things. Choose your music, media, books, and encouragers with wisdom. Make your life a pitcher, nourished with such beauty that only that which is beautiful pours out. Be so full of goodness that it flows from you and sprinkles joy to each person in your path. Whatever you allow in your mind and heart? That is what you’ll have to give back to the world. Give goodness.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ~Proverbs 4:23
And you? You are a creation of God with value and purpose. When you don’t feel loved, you are loved by the Heavenly Father who numbered the stars. He has intimate knowledge of you, your heart, your intentions, your purpose, and your future. He loves you. Cling to that. Make that your hope.
God is the author of your life. May this season of life be full of His truth and beauty. May your strength be His joy. You are a masterpiece. Keep shining your brightest smiles and hugging the warmest hugs. Love one another well. Above all else, may your identity be in Jesus alone.
You were created for His glory and for such a time as this. Live well.
From my heart to yours,