Growing up, my family went to church every Sunday. Like many other teens, church didn’t feel especially relevant to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, I just didn’t feel (or see) His presence in my life.
The truth is, God’s relevance in the lives of teenagers today is stronger than ever. Teens in the US experience record levels of anxiety and depression, and quietly feel worthless for not being good enough.
Our perfectionist culture tells us that individual success, money, and power make us important. That happiness and self-worth require high achievement, and that anything less than the best is not acceptable (in anything). Just stare at that statement and think about how unrealistic and damaging (not to mention FALSE) it is!
I recently read a great little story called Twenty Dollars. The unknown author makes a great point about the value of our self-worth (even when we can’t see it).
What does this have to do with God? God offers hope by teaching us unconditional love. God does not demand that we earn a lot of money, get top test scores, or make varsity to be worthy. He teaches us that we don’t have to earn love. In fact, He welcomes our imperfections and our brokenness. God measures richness of our hearts, not our financial status, and it’s our obsession with status that ignites much of the anxiety and depression in teens. I came across an article on GotQuestions.org (long but well worth the read if your interested) in which the author provides a great explanation of what Jesus meant when he said “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30).
The bottom line, is that achieving our goals helps us live the lives we want and success feels good. Just don’t let achievements (or failures) define you. They don’t! They are simply things that you do, not who you are…
If you’re a young (or not so young) person reading this, and you don’t feel God’s presence in your life (yet), you can still learn from His wisdom… it can be life changing!!
The world scares me a little less when I remember that God loves me in all of my success and my failures. I try to love others the same way. I hope and pray for you to experience His love too. The good news… you don’t have to earn it!!
Licensed Professional Counselor Intern
Under Supervision of Tiffany Smith LPC-S, LMFT-S, NCC