On Turning Eighteen

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I turned eighteen this week. The day was spent celebrating with wonderful friends and family. Throughout the whole week, I have been lavished upon with love. I could not be more blessed with the people God has placed in my life.

Eighteen is a turning point – a reality check, of sorts, that you are actually growing up. I am an adult in the world’s eyes. My childhood is passing away like a setting sun – bold and full of color. But with the morning light comes new experiences and new places and new people. I am so excited for this new stage of life, but at the same time, I am left a little melancholy.

For all of my teenage years, I have been obsessed with rebelling against the world’s standard of “adolescence.” And while I still have two more years of being a teenager, for some reason I am a little sad that this age of opportunity is passing. Of course, there is so much to look forward to, but I am honestly going to miss being a teenager. When I was fourteen (oh, so long ago) I read a book called Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. They started a movement called The Rebelution: a rebellion against low expectations. Here is a passage from their book.

The fact is that as we get older we begin defining our limitations as what comes easily to us – and our rate of growth in competence and character slows and falters.

When we were children our limitations were not defined by difficulty. Our limitations were not defined by

failure – even repeated failure. So what has changed? Why do babies, with inferior motor skills, reasoning ability, and general physical and mental strength, why do they have a nearly 100% success rate in overcoming their big challenges, while teenagers often falter and fail before theirs?

Wow, convicting, right? The truth is that as we get older, we begin to conform to societal norms. Our American society believes that teenagers are defined by their emotional outbursts, their angry rebellion, their constant disrespect, and their alienation from community. As we begin to believe that definition, we begin to conform.

But this has not always been the definition for adolescence. The word “teenager” actually was not used until the mid 1900s. Before then, you were either a child or an adult. Read more about the Myth of Adolescence here. Our current culture has created this hormone fraught middle stage of self-discovery. And so this age group of thirteen to nineteen conform. We disrespect our parents, we ignore our family, we put in a minimal amount of effort, we focus on ourselves and our circle of friends – in a nutshell, we settle for the path of least resistance. I say “we,” because I am guilty.

When I first read Do Hard Things, I was super eager to jump headfirst into this life of doing difficult things. And to be quite honest, I thinkI’ve done a decent job so far. But recently, I’ve been falling into the teenager-syndrome trap. I have begun to feel apathetic. Instead of wanting to do my absolute best no matter the work, I want to scrape by with minimal effort to achieve a suitable result. Rather than finding myself excited about new challenges, I find myself feeling stressed. Rather than wanting to work hard, I am unmotivated. Maybe it is just Senioritis. But call it what you may, I am conforming to society’s standards.

So do not conform any longer 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)

I feel like instead of being renewed, my mind is beginning to atrophy. However, 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has given me “a sound mind.” A life of complacency is not the life God has called me to. He has called me to a purposeful life.

Teenagers have such a neat opportunity to impact the world. Yes, we are emotional, but passion and zeal can be used to make a difference. Our society tells us to settle for the party on Friday night. But God says run after those social issues, fight for injustice, get involved in politics – stand out in the world. One of the best feelings in the world is to join with other like-minded people to stand for something that you believe in – something that is greater than yourself. Often our greatest rewards are discovered when we step outside our comfort zone.

No matter what stage of life you are in, I encourage you to take on new challenges. Do not let your limitations be defined by difficulty or failure. Do not let your life be defined by the world. Instead, let God transform your mind as you seek to understand His purpose. Let God rock your world.

For a little joy and inspiration today, watch this lyric video to one of Jamie Grace’s songs. My prayer and desire is that I do not lose my desire to do hard things. One person can change the world. My dear friend Ellie decorated a canvas for me with these words from Mother Theresa: “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” God has equipped us with everything we need. Do not let your mind and soul fall asleep. Wake up! Let prayer change you. And then goand do life BIG!

– – Phebe

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