13 Things I Would Tell My 13-Year-Old Self
Ten years ago today, I became a teenager. Like most kids, that was a pretty big deal for me. Being thirteen meant I could eat in the living room (which was a special privilege in our house). Being thirteen meant I was more likely to be included with the “big kids” than with the “little kids” in different activities. I thought I would be so grown up.
But little did I know, being a teenager didn’t change much of who I was. I was still a clumsy little girl—in fact, one of my first acts as a teenager was to catch my hair on fire while blowing out my birthday candles! And as it turns out, eating in the living room isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
In many ways, I’m still the same person I was as a young teenager. But in many, many other ways, I’ve changed. I would hope that I’m at least a little more mature, for one thing! Somewhere along the way, I finished high school—and then, eventually, college. I’ve made new friends, gone new places, and learned new skills. Some old dreams have become less important to me, while some new dreams have taken precedence. And, perhaps most importantly, in the last ten years God has pursued me and taught me to pursue Him.
I could never go back in time to talk to myself as a brand new thirteen-year-old. But, just for fun, here are thirteen things I would tell myself if I could. And the funny thing is, most of these things are still true today. In ten more years, I would probably want to tell my 23-year-old self many of these same things. So even as I’m talking to myself, I also hope that I’m listening, too. Not because I’ve figured life out though; really, I don’t need to listen to myself so much as I need to listen to these things that God has—and still is—teaching me.
1) Don’t worry so much. What you look like, what others may be thinking about you, and what the future holds are outside of your control anyway. Try trusting God instead of automatically turning to fear.
2) Live in the current season (instead of constantly longing for the next season). Yes, sometimes high school seems so long, and all you want is to go to college. But before you know it, you’ll already be there. Enjoy each moment you have in the season God has chosen for that moment.
3) Love your siblings more than you fight with them. Believe it or not, someday these people will be your dearest and closest friends. These days at home with them are short—cherish them while you are still together. (I know—this one is much easier said than done!)
4) Be more concerned about the person you are becoming. Don’t think that when you turn 18 you’ll automatically have the character qualities that you admire in others. Rather than pursuing an outward image or current satisfaction, pursue character qualities that honor God.
5) Don’t shut people out of your life. It’s easy to hide yourself from others—how you feel, sins you’re struggling with, needs you may have. But remember that God has given you people—starting with your family and your church—that you can go to when you need help. Include others in your life.
6) Serving can be one of your greatest joys. As much as you love to be served, recognized, and loved by others, the greater joy comes from serving others, from taking the time to notice and show love to them. Try stepping out of your comfort zone to be a blessing to others.
7) Learn to love the church. Church is so much more than a weekly event. It’s a place where you will hear God’s Word preached, where you will worship God, where you will have opportunities to serve others, and where you will live in close proximity with other believers. Beware of ignoring church—it is a special and unique part of God’s plan for your life as one of His children.
8) Spend quality time with God every day. Make it a habit to sit down and read the Bible every day, and make it a habit to pray. God’s Word is powerful—so be prepared to see God changing your life, starting with your heart and working outward.
9) Pray about the things you are passionate about. What do you love to do? What do you think God might have you do with your life? Don’t be afraid to pray about those things, as if God might take them away just because they’re things you want to do. God doesn’t waste talents. Pray that He would give you wisdom about how to best develop them and use them for His honor and glory.
10) Write in your journal just a little bit more often. Memories are a treasure, and they will stay with you much longer if you record them! But don’t just write the good things—write about the bad things too. Write about your struggles, write out prayers, write about fears you have. Write about them, pray about them, and then be encouraged when, ten years later, you go back and remember how much God did for you in those times.
11) Life isn’t about having fun—but don’t be so self-conscious that you miss life’s many opportunities to laugh. Entertainment and fun aren’t the main purpose of your life, but these are good gifts that God has given. Go outside and play tag with your younger siblings. Play another game of UNO with your friends. Yes, hiding away in your room might be easier—but you’re missing out on so many of God’s good gifts to you.
12) Learn about godly femininity from your mom. Talk to her, watch her, learn from her. God has given you a godly mother who displays the precious beauty of biblical womanhood. Don’t ever discount her influence in your life or in the lives of each of your family members. Pattern your life after her godly example, even as she patterns her life after Christ.
13) Surrender yourself every day to God. Just stop living for yourself; you’re not worth it. But God is worth everything!