counter cultural raising teens

Open Letter to Teenagers Today

10:16 AMHeather

Dear Teenager,

I see you. I want you to know that in all the chaos of the world and the bombardment of media messages and information overload, I see you. I see you striving to live well in this world that is so very unlike the world when I was your age. 

I see you taking hit after hit from social media. Knocked down by the posts of friends, sharing all the things they are doing without you. I see you trying to process all the conflicting views and messages and debates and "research" available at all hours of the day, on every topic under the sun from celebrity gossip to world events.

 Image courtesy of Steiner La Engeland, via Unsplash

I see you wrestling against the fear mongering. I see that your generation fights against anxiety in a way my generation never did. My parents could filter the information I received, as the dinner time news or a newspaper were the only sources of up-to-date reports from wars and conflicts and catastrophes. 

But you. You get YouTube videos of Christians being beheaded on a beach by ISIS coming straight to your phones. You are being warned about things like crazy clowns and school lock-downs. In a world where mass shootings are not unfamiliar, you no longer have the luxury of only having to practice for fire drills or bad weather while in the care of your teachers and school administration.

And on top of all this real-time, minute-by-minute reporting, you are assaulted with suggestive images and marketing to sell things like frozen dinners. Even a Christian radio station is replete with commercials about a better you, losing weight, make-overs, and laser skin treatments. Not to mention that reality television runs rampant with its false promises of fame for every average person. 

Oh, yes. You are being sold a ridiculous bill of goods for beauty and fame, as well as reasons to feel rejected or anxious at every turn.

So I need you to know. I need to be confident of this. 

You are seen. 

You are seen wrestling against all this. Your heart for social justice is inspiring. Your awareness of global issues is admirable. Your ability to withstand the storm of being raised in a technology age is noticeable. Your strength runs deep and you have great potential. 

You are not defined by the messages you may be receiving. Your worth is not measurable by followers, likes, or retweets. No cyberbully gets to tell you who you are. If they really knew you, they wouldn't hide like a coward behind a computer screen. Your contributions to this world have nothing to do with your outward appearance or your social status. 

For you, dear teenager, are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were knit in your mother's womb. All the days ordained for you were written in God's book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139, NIV). 

Above all the social media and technology and misguided messages of peers or naysaying teachers, I want you to listen to the One who has the utmost authority when it comes to who you are, how you were made, and what abilities you can contribute to the world around you. I want you to hear the message from the book of Psalm because the Bible is not some outdated, archaic book. It is a love letter to you from your Heavenly Father. 

You may not realize that the God who knows each star by name and placed them in the heavens is the same God who offers you grace and love and a place at his table. He is the same God who invites you in to belong to him for all eternity and to become his son or daughter.

His voice is the only voice that matters. He is your audience of One. Above the social media followers or the "friends" at school whose approval waxes and wanes for no reason. Above the teacher who told a classmate you were annoying, or the cyberbully that calls you names.

There is a voice of a Good, Good Father calling gently above the roar of the world around you. And he wants you to know. He wants you to hold steadfast to his truths, for they are indeed, the truest thing. He wants you to believe that he is exactly who he says he is.

You were created with unique gifts and talents and skills. And when you choose to surrender them all for the sake of God's glory, he intends to use every minute of your day for kingdom purposes. 

You see, behind the fog of the here and now, there is an invisible kingdom ruled by an unseen God. And while this world that we can touch and feel seems more real than any other thing, the truest thing is that God's kingdom is the ultimate reality. 

The truest thing is that he is a God of immeasurable love that sent his perfect son to endure.

He sent his perfect son to be betrayed, ridiculed, rejected, spit upon, tortured, and then executed. 

When you feel alone and as if no one understands you, remember that you have a Savior who willingly endured the same exact things you are. And it was all done for the sake of a grace that calls you to run into the arms of a perfect Father.

Oh, you are not alone. Never. So far from it. You are, in fact, deeply understood, completely known, and absolutely loved. 

So rise up, teenager. Rise up above the messages of the world. Rise up above the things that are weighing you down and binding you up in chains. 

Cry out. Cry out to the Almighty God who knows you full well. Cry out and dare to believe the truest things about him. For He is the truest thing. He is more real and faithful and true than anything else in your life. Take a step of faith toward him and cast all of your cares upon him.

Dare to be the world changer that he intends for you to be. Dare to love extravagantly. Dare to forgive easily. Dare to extend grace. Dare to work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men. Dare to call on the name of Jesus to become the light that overcomes your darkness. Dare to run to him, day after day. 

And when you fall, as you certainly will, dare to stand back up. When you struggle with the weight of each day, keep looking to him. When you fail, remember that his forgiveness is steadfast. 

Oh, yes, teenager. I see you. And I see a remarkable masterpiece. I see a son or a daughter of the Most High God. I see a life with unspoken potential. I see someone who needs to experience the great loving kindness that draws us all to repentance.

You are so loved. 

You are never invisible to the One who made you. He will never leave nor forsake you.

He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. 

And he is the God who sits on the throne above all the madness of today. 

He is calling you to him. He is calling you by name. 

For he is the all-time authority on the world that he created. That includes you. And in his great love, he dares to include each one of us in his eternal plans. 

Don't be mistaken. It's not because he needs you. But it's because he wants you. 

And that is a message that we need to hear, again and again. That we can be in awe of the Holy God who summons each of us by name, no matter our age.

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