We are taught a lot of things at the age of 13 by our churches and in our youth groups. I remember nights around the campfire at summer camp that profoundly changed the way I thought about Jesus. I remember hearing that my real identity rested in Christ, not in whether boys liked me or what I looked like. Those were the lessons I remember being driven home the most because, as I know now, a girl’s self worth is one of the hardest fought battles in her lifetime. Our youth leaders knew this, so we talked about the subject a lot.
Last spring I traveled to Seattle to watch my big sister speak at a conference called Revolve, a speaking and concert tour for girls ages 13-18. I’ve gone to Revolve to see Jenna four out of the five years she’s spoken on the tour. Each year, about ten minutes into her talk I realize I’m learning as much from her words as the teen girls who bought tickets to the event.
This year was no exception. During the event, she spoke about love — what it means and what it doesn’t. She continued with basic lessons: God is love, Love on earth is God incarnate and the meaningful first few verses of the Gospel of John.
Yet, it was like I had never heard the words that were spilling over the edge of the stage.
It was as if those scriptures and truths had not been uttered over me my entire life. They felt new, and there I was at age 26 re-learning the roots of my self-worth and re-learning that God loved me.
This makes me wonder, what would it take for these lessons to stick once and for all? What would it take for these lessons to stick permanently? How do I keep them on me? How do I make sure they stay with the girls in the youth group I volunteer with? I see the lessons bouncing off of them all the time, as much as I try to put them back on nice and neat. For truth being what it is — singular, God-breathed and true — it is incredible how resistant our spirits are towards it and how thirsty they are for it. I’m dying of thirst, but I constantly waver in my search for living water.
I think confessing and recognizing our thirst is a continuous, conscious effort.
I guess I am as much in need as the 8th grader sitting behind me at Revolve. In fact, I feel needier now than I did at that age, even though I feel like I should be the one who “gets it”.
Believing Christ and comprehending grace is not a one-time event made while on your knees; it’s a lifetime of “getting it.” If we got it all right now, in one moment, we would probably swell up with too much knowledge of the beauty of truth — think about the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who was quickly rolled away to avoid explosion.
The true beauty of the Gospel, we just can’t handle it all at once. But we would die without it in small doses.