To all of my teenage and young adult friends,
I’m going to be very honest with you. You’re going to hear some of my greatest sins.
I just wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on my own personal struggle with submission, back when I was exactly your age. I’m not perfect now, but submission is just not something I have to fight any more. Submission is usually a great joy to me now. God has proven faithful over and over again – and boy! I love living with a clear conscience! To know that it’s always clear! That when something comes up, I instantly confess it! That I don’t have a backload of sin that’s waiting to be dealt with! What an amazing way to live!
Obviously, the problem is truly between you and God. That was the conclusion I came to when I was in such hidden emotional rebellion against my parents, seeking the friendships I did that were so unhealthy, or keeping my friendship with my husband, in the beginning, a big secret, lying about how I wasted my time with people, etc. My relationship with God was some times just as fake as my relationship with my parents. Sure I was still in Bible study, where I had a group that kept me accountable, but I just gave picture-perfect answers to the study questions, showed up in modest dresses, and played piano for church. I looked pretty good on the outside, and I convinced myself the inside was just as good.
But what a terrible way to live! Knowing that I had lies – even if they were small ones – that were over my head. Knowing that people could come into my room at any moment and see me typing away to a guy (my husband) that they had never known about, not knowing my best girl friend and I sent like 5000 emails to each other in a 3-week period because we were pretty much obsessed with each other to solve all of our problems and make us feel needed. And you know what? The verse, “Your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23) always seemed so magical to me – like, how on earth could that be possible? It couldn’t really exist. I thought that someone could truly conduct “the perfect crime” and fool everyone. I was an excellent actress. I could convince my husband I loved him best when I was paying way more attention to my other friend. I could convince my parents that I was telling them everything, even when I was slowly sort of starving myself with my overly emotional best friend, etc. I could convince the whole world that I was a pious, humble young woman who just “cared about people” instead of an egotist who actually saved my favorite texts, emails, and posts – that glorified myself as this amazing human being – in a Word document to read over and over again. Instead, as I pursued these things that “made me happy” or “felt good,” I was actually miserable. I cried frequently, I wasn’t eating, I was sick with something every month because I wasn’t getting good sleep and I was so stressed out, and I felt isolated and alone from the people who loved me most. I had constant attacks of panic where I’d wonder if someone had found me out. I HATED living that way!
Yep, you’re hearing some pretty bad sins of mine right now!
The problem was, with all of this Bible knowledge, with all of the homeschooling and Bible studies and godly parents and good pastors… I had convinced myself that my life was only going to be worth living if I could do it MY way. That obedience, submission, purity, and holiness were boring on the inside where myself reigned. I was stuck wanting cute clothes – even if they led people astray, close guy friends – even if they were like lighting fires to the curtains in my bedroom: incredibly dangerous and pointless, a fan club of younger kids – even though I couldn’t even let down my guard with them to help them with their own struggles, and a passionate, me-centered, adoring best friend – even though I already had that in Christ, albeit a holier version: one who glorified himself, not sinful, pathetic me!
But, I PROMISE you, just like God’s Word says: you WILL be better off, you WILL be happier, and you WILL have a fuller life if you give the things that tempt you up. If we choose to be honest, if we choose to be holy, if we choose to be pure – then the things that depress us and draw us away from God and hurt other people will vanish! It’s SO hard for young people – myself included – to believe this some times. We see the lives our friends and coworkers and family members have: lives that are far from what God says He wants in His Word. And they look like they’re having so much fun, getting the guy, are popular, experienced, cute, admirable, etc. But, apart from Christ, they’re suffering inside more than you will ever know. Remember the way we try to fool people into thinking we aren’t guilty and miserable? That is going on in their own heads as well. And, even if they have moments of fun, the consequences for sinful fun are so severe.
Like I said, I thought the phrase “your sin will find you out” was just a whimsical thing, but I found that it was a PROMISE. Does that strike fear in your heart? It should! We have a God who’s in charge of the universe, and He can make anything happen, no matter how impossible it seems. And God *never* let me get away with ANYTHING. EVER. Because He loves me! It wasn’t mean or unfair! I could never, ever commit the perfect crime. God always made sure that those who loved me, and even some who didn’t, found out and chastised me for it. Because He LOVES me and protects me!
If I had continued on with the emotionally abusive best friend, I’d be an isolated, arrogant, broken person. If I had continued on with the guy best friends, I would have lost the husband I have! These things have terrible consequences, and they all started with little lies: “I’ll feel more loved with *her* in my life.” “I’ll be a smarter, more popular person with this dangerous experience that has no benefit for me.” “I’ll be happier if I have a fan club around me because Christ’s death just wasn’t enough to make me feel valuable. I need other wicked human beings to sinfully worship me.”
It all comes down to FAITH. Faith goes beyond believing Jesus died on the cross back when you prayed a prayer. Faith is a daily thing. You have to truly believe that God’s promises are true. If God’s Word and commandments seem boring or pointless or hard to do, we first have to confess in our hearts that we ever doubted Him. Then we have to choose with our heads, not our emotions, to just follow Him and get rid of the sinful “cool” things in our lives – the bad friends, the bad clothing, the bad choices, the bad behaviors, the dishonesty, and the choosing to be our own boss. And we have to just make a mental decision that
I BELIEVE GOD.
Write it on your hands, or your shoes, or your jeans, or your school notebooks. Write it on a post-it note in your bathroom. Look at it daily and make it come true.
And, when we start to obey Him, we can at first feel lost and confused, and we can at first miss those sins that made us feel safe – even though they brought us into danger. The first time you have to tell the truth, when it would feel WAY better to tell a lie… it’s hard! But the wash of peace that comes over you later, especially when you realize that God – and your Christian parents! – will forgive you and still love you? THAT’S amazing. And your mind and heart are clear! Instead of driving more nails into your heart to have more holes to pour more liquid guilt into, you now have a healing freedom! The first time you say no to something you want to do that your parents don’t want you to do, to be able to report that success is amazing! And, I promise you, once you back away from sins and sinful people, you do NOT miss them. You have to make a conscious, MENTAL decision that
You. Trust. God.
That you truly believe that the righteous life He declared for you will show your love to Him first and foremost, and also make you truly content and happy.
“Yet the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger.” Job 17:9
This is a mental, emotional, intellectual, AND physical strength. The people doing drugs? They destroy their bodies. The people looking at porn? They destroy their emotions and minds. The people listening to fools or reading foolish novels and watching foolish movies? They destroy their intellect. But WE, in Christ, can be stronger and stronger than anyone in this world by living a godly lifestyle.
” For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12
This is talking about protection! You want to be safe? Live righteously! God will protect you, and, in living righteously, in a circular logic sort of way, you will also protect yourself! Not replying to that guy’s text? Probably going to avoid a bad situation. Not going to a certain party? No chance you’ll be tempted to fall. And wow, when you’re surrounded by people who spur you on toward love and good works, it’s refreshing. It’s safe. It’s happy. And you come away a better person, because that’s what they do for you.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
You’re going to be happy! MORE than happy! You’re going to “delight” in life! You’re really not going to miss the old things or your old way of living! You’re going to be delighted! And, when you sin, because you still will, if you cry out for forgiveness as quickly as possible, He’s going to keep you from making a great, disastrous, life-altering fall. That’s His promise to you. He usually lets His children’s sins come out pretty early on so that He can save them before it’s too late. It’s so loving and kind of Him. ❤
There are SO many more verses like this! It’s so exciting to make a study of all of His promises to us if we choose to obey Him! And they come true! They are promises!
With some Christian counseling, Bible study, and watching the godly character and forgiveness of my husband, by the time I was married, I had repented of and turned away from all of those things I listed above. But you know what helped the very most? Quiet, undisturbed time in my room to just talk to God. Not to do these “Dear God, please help ____. Thanks for this food. Amen” type of prayers. But to say, “I HATE this! I hate who I am! I hate losing friends, even if they were bad! I don’t get it! I don’t see where I went wrong! I’m still tempted! Help me! I feel like such a worm!” and just to talk to Him about what was REALLY going on. He wasn’t fooled. He didn’t strike me with lightning. He didn’t take Brad or my family away. He didn’t even make me suffer. He was gentle. I had to daily put my armor on by talking to Him and reading His Word, by seeing myself helpless without Him, and by trusting His amazing love for me that keeps giving and giving and giving.
So I want to recommend a book. It’s just 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myer.
It’s short, but you can use it daily. Each page or two are just prayers that come straight from Scripture (and you can look up the verses), and teach who God is and what He’s done for you. How can you love and submit and trust someone you really don’t know well? So I think you should – like I did (My biblical counselor recommended this book!) – immerse yourself in who God is. Get to know Him better than you know your boyfriend, better than you know your family, and better than you know yourself, so that you can truly become just like Him. And so that you can trust Him and His promises, and fully, mentally, BELIEVE that that narrow road truly does lead to life.
I’m praying for you, and rooting for you to fight the great fight and win the Race of Life!