Your favorite thing as a teenager—unsolicited advice from an adult.
I remember that feeling and still fall victim to it when older, wiser people try to impart nuggets of wisdom. So, I apologize in advance but will still carry on with this note.
I was your age when I made a covenant with the Lord, a forever promise to love and serve Him. I am very thankful I was 14 when I made this choice, but I also have learned some important lessons.
I am approaching the spiritual age of 25. I wish I could say I used all those years to my benefit. So this is why I must write to you, hoping to influence your walk for the better.
Being raised in the church is a privilege. It seems normal to you. And maybe somewhat ritualistic and mundane, since it has been all you know. I get it. But understand that in no way is this the norm for other people.
You have been in the presence of the Holy Spirit unlike anywhere else. Use it. Call to it. Rely on it. The Spirit WILL manifest itself for you. It is not your parent’s special ability to use it. It’s not for old people. It is for YOU. Whether you are baptized yet or not, call to the Lord and He will be there for you.
I still have to remind myself of this. Life gets hard and busy and sometimes sad, and I just can’t. Words will fail you, and you won’t know what to say to God. Just ask Him to help you. That’s all it takes.
Don’t think you are missing anything by not doing normal things—drugs, drinking, clubs, bars, parties, premarital activities of sorts, etc. The worldly are seeking to fill a void. I have felt, at times, that I missed out on “normal” experiences. And that would be true if that is what we were made for—“normal” human existence stuff.
But we aren’t. We were created by God and for God. All the roads of self-satisfaction through man-made activities lead to an empty finish line. It may take awhile, and the emptiness might feel different than you imagined because life is “good” and you have creature comforts. But believe me, the emptiness will reveal itself somehow. Don’t accept immediate, fleeting comfort in this life in exchange for the everlasting comfort from God. You won’t be immune to bad times, but you will have a forever friend in Christ who will hold your hand the entire way.
Read more. Read when you are young before the business starts. Soak it in, Bible and Book of Mormon. You don’t have to understand it all, but the words will take root and start becoming meaningful. Of course, reading throughout your whole life is important. There is so much to do though when you get older. Time is not as readily available as it is now. The scriptures are there to feed you and guide you.
I know I’ve gotten some eye-rolls by now. I know you’d rather be discussing these things in a group chat with your friends. Speaking of friends…you have found a group to hang out with that shares your humor and interests, which is super important at your age. You are also a very loving and accepting person. Keep being that way. Just remember your foundation and that you are a light to others. Don’t put your light out in exchange for their acceptance. Keep it bright around them so they can feel all the wonderful things the Holy Spirit has to offer. You may very well be the only person to show them the difference between God’s love and worldly love.
Around your age, I started to travel without my parents. I want you to experience this at the right age for you. I feel it is coming soon. You need to see parts of the church that are different from ours. Maybe you will grow there and not here because you can become a freer version of yourself away from us. I am OK with that. I want you to experience different people in the church that bring different energy and zest to serving the Lord. It is refreshing and beautiful. I also want you to see parts of the church that exist in harder circumstances. The reservations out west, the church in Mexico. Not only is it part of our calling as a Church, but also an eye-opener to see God’s Spirit move through different cultures. God is not limited to your existence. He is everywhere with everyone.
I had to spread my wings to become open to the Lord. Some people don’t have to do that. They feel comfortable being raw emotionally anywhere with anyone. I just needed to be around people who didn’t know me my whole life waiting for this emotion to manifest itself in me. Whatever environment works for you, just know that vulnerability is where the Lord works and uses people. It is OK to be nervous and OK to freak out. But…..you need to go there with the Lord to grow with the Lord. Be vulnerable and emotional and raw. Let him in the spaces that scare you, that you don’t understand about yourself. Give Him your fears and loneliness—give it all to Him.
God is the only one who can make you feel safe, accepted, and loved completely. I can’t, your dad can’t, your friends can’t. We will all disappoint you. Turn to the Lord now. The journey of life will still have ups and downs. You will still be disappointed by things and people. But He will give you hope and purpose.
I know there is more I want to tell you, but this will do for now. Just remember I love you, dear, more than you will ever know.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.