Only Young Once

I sat in my bed, listening to the raindrops pummel softly against the window. It never rains hard where I live, but every now and then the soothing sound of rain comes to lull me off to sleep. But not this night. This night I was troubled. My heart was in turmoil within me. If my heart was a pot, the water was boiling over.

I had been on the internet and social media today. It seemed to be the first mistake which had fixed my heart in so lousy a position. Everywhere I turned, I saw it. In my own self I saw it. It was everywhere. It fixed itself into every corner of every place, demanding attention, and promising consequence if attention was not given.

It was a disease. A vice. A speckle upon the pure, innocent faces of the eight hundred or so million young people on this planet. It’s always been here, but now it screams at us like a puppy desperate to consume every moment of our every day.

Culture has made its mark.

I wept. I drew. I wrote. My heart gushed out onto the page. I unleashed the suppressed feelings hiding away in my soul. They had to be let loose, for fear of bursting.

I am one week shy of turning seventeen. I am a young woman in a world where my fellows and I are said to be nothing more than the grisly labels that society limits us to. And we fall for it.

And that was why I wept.


There’s always those stories. Those are my favorite stories. The ones where someone is trapped in a cycle, a cast system, or a society. No one dares to venture out of it because that’s “the way it’s always been.” No one dares to break the system society has created for them. It’s too dangerous.

Until, of course, the hero comes around and opens the eyes of the people to reveal the deadly truth they’ve all been living for so long. The heroes like Jonas from The Giver and Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit. The heroes that are willing to break the mold society has handcrafted for them. The heroes that are willing to be so much more than what limits them.

I find the same dilemma closing in around me. It closes around me and my comrades. The society we live in expects it of us, and they have us in the position to believe that we can never be more.

Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve been trying to understand this crazy world that I live in. I’ve been trying to fit in, but that’s never really worked. I’m different, and I’m starting to realize that it’s okay. My heart is on fire with a love that can’t be contained. My heart is on fire with the love of the God who made me.

But as I realize this, I look around. I see my own life and the lives of the fellow young people who go on this journey with me. Our world, the world we have been living in for nearly six thousand years, has finally gotten around to something that it’s wanted to do for a long time. It’s defined us: the youth.

Us, the young. The ones who will shape the next generations. What have we become to our culture? They call us teenagers. To them, are we more than just the “lol’s,” the hashtags, the drugs, the sex, the promiscuity, the parties, the rebellious, the idiotic lot of society, aimlessly trying to find ourselves in a darkened atmosphere? Do we fill our heads with anything that really matters?

I’ve taken this into account in the last week or so. I’ve been what most people would call “a boring philosopher.” Indeed, I started to think about what it really all means. It’s never too early to ask the hard questions, contrary to popular opinions. We are capable of introspection and philosophizing.

When I’m gone from this world, and when I see Jesus, will my life have been lived meaningfully? Will my life have been a blessing and a shower of love to someone? Did I bring the love of Christ to brighten someone’s life?

That’s why we even exist. When you blow away the dust culture sprinkles all over our purposes as teenagers, all that’s left is this one, simple purpose: to love Christ and to take His love to other people.

Our life is a privilege, a joy, and a miracle! As teenagers, we’ve never valued life less than we do now. We fill our minds with useless information, spend our time on trivial matters, and the more we do so, the more our eyes drift away from the true meaning of life.

Jesus.

Only Jesus.

But we can be so much more. We can rise above the standards society sets for us. There are people in this dying world who need us. There are lives, at this moment, in places far away, who have never heard the joy and the love of Jesus Christ.

They need us. This world needs us.

Our hopeless world needs the teenager.

And it’s not impossible. It has never been more possible than it is today. Our world needs us to encourage, love, and strengthen it. The world needs our energy, spunk, and determination to preach the goodness and grace of Jesus Christ boldly from the rooftops.

There are few among us, but those few see what must be done.

My little sister Allison works diligently at the local zoo. She has stood out among her peers because she has loved them through their bullying, through their snide remarks, and through their petty chatter. She has shown love to her superiors, and they trust her because of her respect. She has been the love of Christ to them. Her decision to defy culture’s crudely low standards on teens is one that shines through everything she does.

Straight after graduation, my friend Isaac has been chasing the Lord’s plan for his life and sharing the gospel with people in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Yep, that’s him up there with all those adorable kiddos. He’s been an inspiration to me, and he’s shared with love of Christ with so many people around the globe. His decision to rise above culture’s standards is one that glorifies the Lord and breaks the molds of society.

Miss Makayla 🙂 , who defied the standards of relationship that culture puts on young people when she wrote a letter to her future husband. Her willingness to wait in the middle of a world of instant gratification reveals her devotion to Christ. In her own words to her future man, “I am here waiting for you and praying for you, but also giving my whole life to my first love Jesus Christ, and I pray you are doing the same.”

My friend Sayge spreads the love of Christ with just one smile! But she’s also been a witness to the people of Haiti, the country she’s fallen in love with. Her radiance shines through every photograph, and the freedom she has to simply be herself is so rare and so valuable. The decision she has made to break the bonds of culture’s confinement sets her apart from the rest of the world.

There are so many more. There’s Ashley, Devyn, Diana, Ruth, Kennedy, Lily, Jessica, Kate, Chris, Zach, Spencer, Daniel, Sabrina, Joey, and Savannah. So many true, real, and sincere teenage believers in the goodness of Christ. The desire we all share is more of Jesus. And there are so many more who are waiting to break the cycle…millions more who can hear the voice of Christ calling out to them through the mist and suffocating climate of culture’s mire.

My readers, my friends, and fellow passengers on this journey called life, this is my call to action for you. They say every good bit of writing has a call to action at the end. Well, here’s mine.

Let’s break the cycle. If we truly know His love for us, we will.

There is so much more to our lives than pop culture and social media. It is only an infinitesimal part of who we are, and there is so much more to define us than mere hashtags and trends.

We must feed our minds worthy things, teach our souls to love what is good, and spread the love of our God, our Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ. And it begins with what we put in our minds.

To draw wisdom from my favorite television show, Sherlock, I must use this quote 😆 . In the episode “The Great Game,” Sherlock explains to John just how important his mind is to him, and why he doesn’t care to remember every silly detail that’s thrown his way.

Listen. This [the mind] is my hard drive, and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Really useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see??

Sherlock, from Se. 1 Ep. 3, “The Great Game”

Our minds are important. Our lives are important. We have been made for a purpose on this earth.

The big question is: what are we going to do with it all? Fall under culture’s idea of status? Fill our heads with “all kinds of rubbish?” Decide to waste our youth on meaningless, futile schemes of popularity and image? Or will we stand against the jet stream of society and have our own minds? Will we stand against the tides of this world, follow the lead of our Lord, and spread the truth of God, the love of Christ, and the peace of the Holy Spirit?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 NIV

My friends, we are only young once. Let us use this time of our lives to serve Him and glorify His name with all that we are.

Let us go to war with culture’s standards on youth.

Let us run our race and praise our God.

I love you all!

Let’s go on this grand adventure together, shall we?

Auf Wiedersehen,

Emily 🐻

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