An Open Letter to My Teenage Sisters

It’s hard to be teenage girl! There is so much advice out there, it can be overwhelming! Still, I believe the best resource in counseling, supporting, loving and challenging young ladies lies in God’s Word.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned from Scripture and personal experience. In fact, most of these lessons I’ve learned the not-so-easy way. In many ways, I lived the exact opposite of this list and have found the consequences to be less-than-pleasant and totally avoidable.

Remember, Colossians 3:1 tells us, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above”. That is a BIG “if”. It is the Gospel that gives us the grace to live out these implications daily.

1. Don’t “follow your heart.” Ever.

“Follow your heart” is probably the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Our emotions can change faster than the weather in New England. So follow Christ with all your heart – but don’t succumb to your heart’s whims. Never neglect reason and biblical counsel for the sake of what feels good. (See Jeremiah 17:9 and 2 Corinthians 10:5.)

2. Challenge the “you are enough” mantra.

I understand where this sentiment comes from. You may feel worthless, unloved or even invisible. And you should never wallow in those feelings, because the truth is that you are precious to God (Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 3:1)!

But here’s where the world gets it wrong – when things feel hopeless, Scripture does not tell us to look to ourselves, but to Jesus. HE is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). HE is enough … and YOU are His beloved! This is a much more freeing message than “you are enough”!

3. Find your identity in Christ.

Accept the fact that you are beautifully broken and loved just the same. In Christ, you have an amazing Healer who accepts and transforms you. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. (See Prov. 31:30 and Psalm 139:14.)

4. Express yourself, but don’t live by your emotions.

Do not let others neglect or belittle your emotions, but do subject them to truth and reason.

You matter. In the cultural context of the New Testament, women were considered so worthless that their testimonies were not even valid in a court of law. In spite of that, Jesus chose to appear to a group of women first after His resurrection! (See Matthew 28:1-10.) He values your voice, even when others don’t. But let’s be wise about what and who we’re talking about.

Are you dealing with a lot of emotions after your break-up? Express them. But express them to friends who will make sure you put your sadness into perspective and remind you that God will see you through as you honor Him in obedience. It may take a while, but He will. I promise. (See Matt. 7:24-25; John 15:10-1.)

5. When you’re angry, ask God to show you why.

I still don’t know why I was so angry all the time as a teenager. Maybe it was just because things were changing and life was confusing.

Here’s a phrase I often hear from your peers: “She’s so annoying!” When I ask why or how the person is annoying, the answer is usually, “Ugh! BECAUSE!

When you are angry with someone, pinpoint the exact behavior that is bothering you, then address that behavior directly with the person who has upset you (for example, “I’m mad because you’ve arrived an hour late the last three times we’ve hung out.”)

Focusing on a problem helps you learn to address the situation, but focusing on a feeling may simply be justifying an ungodly, sour attitude. And if you can’t find the “why” in their behavior, then the problem may be within. (See Matthew 18:15 and James 4:1.)

6. Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t do IRL (in real life).

I know you’re going to have a life outside of an adult’s supervision, but you never have a life outside of God’s supervision – and that’s a good thing!

So don’t do or say things online that would disappoint your Father. You are precious to Him and have His very precious Spirit dwelling inside of you! (See Ephesians 5:1-2.)

7. If you choose to show off your body, you will get a boy… who likes to look at girls’ bodies.

Believe it or not, you are not the only young woman with an attractive figure. So don’t be surprised if dressing to show off certain features draws attention from boys who quickly have their heads turned by other girls’ bodies.

You don’t have to be ashamed of the body your Creator thought up and fashioned together – but you also don’t need to fish for compliments about how you look.

Our bodies change. Train yourself in godliness as much as you train your body, if not more so. And don’t keep spending time with a guy that is only interested in your body. As a child of God, you deserve someone who appreciates your true worth. 1 Timothy 2:9-10; Prov. 31:25.

8. Be careful with having a “guy best friend.”

I loved having best friends who were guys when I was younger, but inevitably one or both of us got hurt as we grew up. Why? Because as we got older, we failed to guard our hearts.

Throughout the years, I’ve developed amazing friendships with guys – and I would still consider some of them to be good friends. But “best friends”? That we-tell-each-other-everything kind of friendship? No.

My general rule of thumb in evaluating whether a friendship is appropriate: would this be okay if he were dating or married to someone else? (See Ephesians 5:15 and Hebrews 13:4.)

9. Live your life out… and intentionally include some older and smarter friends.

I’m not talking about you being a junior and your bestie is a senior. Someone at least 4 years older than you who you could honestly say you look up to. If there’s no one around you, start looking and praying. Chances are it may be someone you least expect. (See Titus 2:3-4.)

Itamar Elizalde is a collegiate missionary in Worcester, MA, and also serves at her home church, Casa de Oracion, in addition to volunteering with BCNE youth ministry. You can find her on Twitter @Itamar_E.