If you could go back and talk to yourself at a particular point in time, how old would your younger self be, and what would you say?
There are a few points in my past that I really could have done with some grown-up-me advice. Like when I was 16 and suffering depression because I didn't know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and didn't think I was smart enough to do anything other than menial labour. Like when I had my heart broken for the first time by the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with - I was 18 and extremely naive, as all 18-year-olds are! Or like when I could have confronted my dad about his affair but I didn't have the courage.
But the point in my life where I really needed the grown-up me to step in for a chat, was in my very early 20s. And it's all about love, self worth and knowing God and His love for me. And it would go something like this:
"That guy doesn't love you - he's just trying to get into your pants. And he doesn't even think your pants are that special - to him you're just another chick. If you say no and stick to your guns, he'll break your heart in order to find another girl who will believe his lines and jump into bed with him. Trust me, the temporarily broken heart is the better option!
"The love you are searching for so badly, and that you think is in the arms of any guy who smiles at you and holds your hand, is already with you. GOD loves you madly and passionately just as you are! He can fill the void you're trying to fill. He has great plans for your life, that include love, trust, faith, honesty, loyalty, children, a house, laughter, a good job and friends. You're breaking God's heart by selling yourself short to these men who in 15 years, won't even remember your name. Hec, they're likely to forget you after 15 months! They're damaging your soul and your heart. Your heart is precious, it's unique and wonderful and special and worth guarding with all your might! Be strong. Find your faith. Hang on. Your "one" is coming.
"And even though you won't be rich when you're older, grab whatever cash you can and invest in something called Apple. And DO NOT dye your hair blonde - you'll look ridiculous for a good year trying to undo that damage! And sorry, your freckles don't fade away and you'll still get pimples into your 30s."
I was talking to my husband and my mum in the last few weeks (not in the same conversation) about why I dated so many 'wrong' men, and went out drinking and partying in my early 20s. And I think it's because of three reasons: 1) Everyone else was doing it, and I finally had some money and freedom. 2) I was so desperate to find love that I did what I thought you did to find it. And 3) I had no other role models in my life to show me any other way of being a woman in her early 20s, and I had all the wrong information.
I didn't know a single active Christian woman back then. I didn't have anyone to tell me, "Hey Jen, that's not what you're supposed to do. It doesn't make you feel very good, does it? That's because that's not what God wants you to do. There's a much better way to live your life right now!" And I probably would have ignored that one person, but if they were part of a group, and one of many voices, they might have stood a much better chance of getting through my thick 20-year-old head!
I could, and have spent a lot of time wondering "what if". What if I hadn't gotten into that relationship? What if I didn't get on that plane? What if I didn't go out clubbing? I mean, how much more money would I have now! Cha-ching! But wishing I had made different choices in my youth is pointless, because I can't go back and change a single thing. And yes, it's true that all those experiences helped shape who I am today, but I know the who-I-am-today, while wiser and pretty darn fantastic, has hurt and pain woven into my fabric that was never part of God's pattern for my life.
So, let this blog post stand for one voice against the millions of others, telling you, young woman or teenage girl (if any of you happen to be reading this) - there IS a better way to live your life than throwing yourself at a man, trying to find love. Sex does not equal love. If a boy doesn't like you, sleeping with him isn't going to change that. But know the truth that GOD loves you, and has wonderful things in store for your life. Guard your heart! Don't give your love or body away. You are worth protecting. Don't believe the lies those boys are telling you. You are special, beautiful and unique. Be strong. Find your faith. Hang on. Your "one" is coming.