Owlish Contemplations

Dear Sweet Sixteen

[What You Will Learn in 10 Years]

Sweet Sixteen, I know that ten years seems a long way off. Twenty-six years old seems quite ancient compared to the teenage world in which you are now immersed. This moment in time feels like it will last forever.

Believe me, it won’t. Almost in the blink of an eye, you’ll roll over and awake to find that you are ten years older. You’ll move on with your life, meet new people, make new decisions and memories, and high school will be but a memory. I hope it won’t be a memory you regret.

But Sweet Sixteen, there’s so much you will learn in those ten years. If you would just allow me to nudge the curtain of time a little, I’ll whisper of the things you should know coming down the line. I know that you have to experience them yourself to fully embrace them, but maybe some words of advice to help smooth the way?

You can mimic the people around you, but your true confidence won’t come from their parroted lines or the ability to make people laugh. It will come from the deep understanding of who God made you to be – a unique being created to make a lasting impact on the world. And that won’t change depending on who you’re hanging out with. Once you discover this, it won’t matter what anyone says about you or thinks about you. Unapologetic you is a light no one can extinguish.

You will have your heart broken in one way or another. It’s inevitable. Love might not turn out the way you thought it would. But don’t ever let that stop you from loving. Love is always worth it, even when it leaks unstoppable from your eyes.

Get really good at communication and conflict resolution. If you become proficient at the first, you will become proficient at the second. And believe me you’ll never get away from conflict resolution for the rest of your life.

Being a lady is always in style. There are better and more refined ways to express yourself than swear words. Allow the men [and boys] in your life to be gentlemen – otherwise they will never learn how.

Be classy, not trendy. One lasts for decades, the other lasts for a year or two. Be above the gossip chain and petty revenge. Be intelligent but not a know-it-all. Modesty is not overrated. A little mystery never hurt anyone.

Faith isn’t faith until you make it your own. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek truth. Truth can’t be hidden or explained away. It will always come into the light if you honestly seek it. Don’t let others tell you how to think. Use the mind that God gave you and He will always reveal Himself to you.

A strong work ethic will sometimes take you farther than a college degree. Work experience in general will teach you more about real life than a college classroom. Don’t believe me? Work for the branch of a national organization for five-six years and suddenly you might be working for the national organization itself.

Traveling is always a good choice. If you get the opportunity to go on an overseas missions trip, study abroad or spend a month just traveling – take it. You will learn more about other cultures and people groups by immersing yourself in them instead of just reading about them.

There’s something to be said for family. They will always have your back when the world turns on you. Don’t drive them away or take them for granted. Yes, it is hard and painful at times. But sticking together through good times and bad is what makes it a family.

Take time to know yourself before committing to another person. Don’t use another person as practice grounds if you can help it. But also, don’t settle for someone just because he or she came along and they’re interested. Marriage is one of the most impacting, life-altering choices you’ll ever make. Don’t go into it hastily.

Sharing your faith is scary, but it’s the most rewarding thing you can do. It completes the joy of your relationship with God to give it away to others, and God will use you in bigger ways than you can imagine.

Finally, don’t ever forget that God has wild dreams for you. Every curve in the path of your life is part of that ultimate, sacred plan that’s meant to refine you and use you for His glory – if you’ll let Him. You can grow bitter and fight against Him and try to stubbornly make your own plans happen. OR you can surrender in faith to what He’s doing, allow Him to make you stronger, and fall into all His marvelous grace that carries you even when you don’t understand.

EMBRACE THE ADVENTURE – AND JUST SEE WHERE YOU END UP!

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