Revelations: Talking to teenage self
BY JENNIFER PREYSSWhen I was a teenager, I remember how excited I was to go back to school. There was always some "Back to School" celebration at school, and my friends were always hosting some "End of Summer" party. My mother, knowing how much I lamented summer's end, treated me to a back-to-school wardrobe: new clothes, new book satchels and other school supplies. I actually remember how excited I used to get to organize my folders before the fall semester started.
You'd think before I was showered with so many new things, I'd have to attend school a few weeks and take home a report card full of A's and B's, right? But, I guess I was a unique brand of spoiled back then. I didn't have to earn my new things, I just had to ask for them.
And it seemed, at least according to my mother, the only way to motivate me into a studious mode was to buy me new things.
I needed the shiny, new things, you see, to feel special and beautiful and accepted among my peers. I needed the things to kick-start a successful school year, I thought.
Don't laugh, but I was a football and basketball cheerleader; I sang in two choirs and was a member of several important clubs. I helped organize various school functions and provided assistance with the occasional community service project. Looking nice while participating in these activities was very important in high school, I remember.
But I wasn't a Susie High School-type. My teen years were tough years for me, and some of the loneliest years of my life - even though I was surrounded by close friends and family.
When I look back on those years, I wish I'd known God as I do today. I wish teenage Jenny would have known earlier in life how much she was loved and treasured and protected, with or without her shiny new things.
That's why I loved Faith Family's E3 Back to School Bash last Wednesday.
It was a pep rally of sorts, a way to invite the community's youth to come out and get hyped about school. They dressed up in their school colors, enjoyed a bit of friendly competition, and loudly expressed school spirit.
Most of all, however, the bash was about a bunch of students bonding to kick off the school year worshiping God. It was an event planned to remind the students how much God wants to be in the center of their world.
And as I stood in the auditorium and watched about 400 students dance and sing along with Faith Family's worship band praising Jesus for his awesomeness, I wished I could go back in time and have a conversation with my teenage self. I wished I could tell her how much God loves her and wants to see her succeed. I wished I could tell her how little she needed to worry about life because her Lord would be there to guide her, when, and if, she decided to ask.
I'd tell her not to focus so much on pleasing and following the crowd because teenage Jenny is special and interesting, as is.
And I would tell her that no matter what, she'd always have another chance to get it right the next day because forgiveness from the Lord, was a given.
I hope at least a few of those teens go back to E3 next Wednesday and start learning now where their worth is.
It took me a long time to learn my worth comes from the Lord, and that he already thinks I'm beautiful and special, like a shiny, new outfit.
And just like my new back-to-school things, I never earned as a teen, I learned later in life that I can't earn a relationship with God, or a place by his side.
All I had to do was ask.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.