Teens

Setting the Example in Self-Image

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Countless articles promote the idea that you are beautiful just the way you are. “Be satisfied with the body God gave you.” “Love yourself.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

There are studies of the psychological benefits of being happy with yourself, statistics about how many people aren’t, and expositions on how to be content. But I believe they all miss a very important point: the effect your self-image has on other people.

A few days ago, my four year old sister was playing in my room and randomly started doing all the stretches and exercises she knew. I smiled at her pushups and the way she flicked her hair out of her face with a serious expression. But my smile disappeared when she told me that she was doing it so that she could have a “little tummy.”

This girl doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body, but she decided that she needed to exercise so that she could look better. That her tummy wasn’t little enough. What on earth possessed her to think that?

There are, of course, the TV shows, toys, and ads to point to. She was born into a world that teaches her to look a certain way – to get there however she can.

But what about the people around her?

I would like to propose the idea that when you show contempt for your body and appearance, it has a real effect on those around you. How many times has my sister seen me look in the mirror and say it’ll have to do for the day? It’s obviously stuck with her.

The way we look at ourselves says a lot about who we are and other people pick up on that. When a girl that you think is especially pretty complains about the way she looks, your heart falls a bit. If she isn’t good enough, how could you ever be?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” It’s not encouraging to lead someone into discontent with how they look.

I’m especially speaking to those of us with younger siblings. Part of our job is to set the example for them in godliness. They do follow us, whether we realize it or not. They look up to us and want to be like us, and we must turn that to their benefit. It pained me to hear my sister talking about why she wanted to exercise. I don’t want her to think that way about herself. But that way of thinking is a direct reflection of the people she is around, including me.

How do you want your friends, siblings, peers to view themselves? Set an example in that, not in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Encourage them and build them up by having a healthy view of yourself. They’ll catch on.

Kira

How do you lead people to see themselves in a godly way? What’s the hardest part about it?

Following Your Passion as a Teenager

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I, like any other person you talk to, have a passion. My passion is writing. One of my brothers has a passion for coding and other technical things I don’t understand. One of my sisters has a passion for music.

All three of us are teenagers. We follow our passions in the midst of teenage lives and I want to show you what that means.

Yes, everyone has a passion for something – children, adults, and teens alike. But I don’t know how to follow your passion as an adult, seeing as I am not one, nor have I ever been one. Also, I imagine not many children are on the internet, googling how to follow their passions. So let’s look at it from a teen’s perspective.

What is a passion?

A passion is something you love. What gives you a surge of joy when you think about it or satisfaction when you do it well? My sister can’t stop grinning when she leads worship without messing up any chords.

I also believe a passion is something that God gives to His children. He wants us to enjoy life in our own unique ways, so He gives us things that we especially enjoy over others. It is also something we use to glorify Him. He doesn’t want His children serving Him a certain way because they have to – He wants us to serve Him because we want to. So He gives us a passion for something that we can use to do just that.

School

School is often the most prominent aspect in the life of a teenager. I’m in the middle of high school and my classes take up a lot of time. Sometimes I hate that, but it’s where God has me, and, chances are, where He has you too.

In following your passion, it is crucial to work hard in school. Even though that guitar looks awfully enticing over there in the corner, your math homework needs proper attention. High school is meant to be preperation for college, where you can choose to study your passion for four or more years. No good thing comes from neglecting your schoolwork, so keep at it.

Health

Teens have the unrivaled advantage of youth. We are at a time in our lives where it’s relatively easy to be healthy. We have young bodies that are eager to give us energy and vitality in exchange for our taking care of them. So take care of yourself so that you can use that energy on your passion.

Spiritual and emotional health are also important. I don’t write very well if my heart isn’t taken care of. Spend time in your Bible and with other strong Christian friends. A social life can be good for you if it consists of the right people. We were created for community, so don’t hide in your room all the time, tinkering with your latest improvement to the light bulb.

Discipline

With school, soccer, piano, youth group, and who knows what else, teenagers have a lot of demands upon their time (though adults often laugh at the idea, it’s true). Following your passion is going to take discipline. You have to work hard at all of the other things in your life in order to even make time for what you want to do. And when you have that time, you must use it wisely. It is valuable and you are filling it with the pursuit of a desire God has given you. Don’t waste it.

Don’t give up!

Although it can be difficult to follow your passion as a teen, these are beautiful years that should be used for just such a thing. Even if it takes a lot of extra work on your part, invest in your passion. Do it to God’s glory and for His people. Pray that He will guide you and use you as you work.

Your passion isn’t just something to write about in a “what I did this summer” essay. It is something to cherish and nurture. Make it happen. Make it grow.

Kira

What’s your passion? How do you work to make it part of your life?