Who am I?

Who am I?  What will I do?  Who will I become?
Every teenager goes through this.  An identity crisis.  When you were little, it didn’t matter.  You could kick a soccer ball, so you were an athlete.  You could draw a picture of your mom that looked remotely human, so you were an artist.  You enjoyed singing at the top of your lungs in the bathtub, so you were musical.  You talked a mile a minute, so you were bright.  Life was easy and the future was as big as the blue sky, and as bright as a twinkling little star.
And now, all of a sudden, everything is crucially important.
You suddenly learn that there are lots of other kids out there who can kick a soccer ball, so maybe (just maybe) you won’t be a famous athlete after all.  And your drawings, well, maybe you aren’t as passionate about art as you once thought you were.  And maybe your singing sounds pretty much like everybody else’s.  And your grades are hardly those of the genius you once thought you were.
And suddenly, it hits you.
You’re growing up.  The talents you took for granted when you were little aren’t all that spectacular after all.  At least they’re not as easy to pursue as you once thought.  Maybe you don’t even care about them that much.
And suddenly, for the first time, it actually matters.
It matters because you’re growing up, and your future is at stake.
Suddenly, you don’t fit in to that perfect little “niche” anymore.  Instead of fitting in everywhere, you don’t fit in anywhere.  Your personality and unique abilities can’t be boxed and shelved.  And you start to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”
You’re older now, and your identity actually matters.  Like a painter who, when learning, could dabble with colors, techniques, canvases, brushes and styles.  But now the experimental phase is over, and he needs to settle down and begin his career as an artist, firm in his style and ideas of art.  In the same way, we used to be able to mess around with various ideas and career paths, but now we need to buckle down and decide.  College is around the corner.
As a matter of fact, most kids enter college still not knowing what they want to do with their lives, still unsure of their identity.  Some even graduate college still confused.
So what is your identity?  Who are you, and what will you do with your life?
When you were a child, if someone asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” it was always with the clear understanding that the answer was almost certainly temporary.  And of course we shot for the moon, aspiring to such practical careers as astronauts, NFL linebackers, actressess, heavyweight champions, princesses, Presidents of the United States, and, oh, maybe a famous singer or something if nothing else works out.
Now, people ask us from time to time, with a serious expression “what we plan to do”.  Then we grow weak-kneed and awkward, swallow a few times, and mutter something about not being sure, considering options, attending college, possibly [insert first practical, boring job that we can think of].
After all, if we said what we really wanted to be, people would think we were pretty full of ourselves, wouldn’t they?
But deep inside, we have no clue who we are.  We have only a vague idea of who we want to become, and most people would probably laugh at it.  We may have big dreams, but most people would laugh at those, too.
Sometimes, the things we like and the lifestyles we appreciate don’t make sense to others who perceive our personalities differently.
I want to go out on a limb here and use a pretty secular phrase that I think has a lot of truth in it.  Here we go.
Be yourself.
Better still, be your sanctified self.  Express your God-given personality and interests, just so long as they are not self-centered or sinful.  Don’t be afraid to live your life in living colors, rather than restricting yourself to black-and-white because that’s what others expect of you.  Don’t worry about other’s opinions.  That’s pride, anyway.
Do you struggle with juggling the things you enjoy and worrying about what others think of you?  Well, don’t.
Do people call you a tomboy?  But you really want to wear a pink dress?  Go ahead.  And paint your fingernails pink, too, for good measure, if you feel like it.
You’re a girly girl but you want to try soccer?  That’s OK!  You’re free to try, to experiment, to be, to learn, to grow, to broaden your horizons.  You may have a real talent for it, you may not.  But you won’t know until you try.
Because there’s no such thing as a stereotypical person.  You are not a stereotype.  You are a unique individual created by God.  And no one can tell you that you’re weird, different, or strange.  Because individuality is a good thing, so long as you live within God’s boundaries for your life.
So confidently be your sanctified self, growing in the likeness of Jesus day by day, and don’t worry about other’s opinions.
And as for your identity?
Christian teens, here is your identity.
You are a child of God.
You can be firm and secure in the knowledge that you are a child of God, that He loves you, that He is leading you and conforming you to the image of His Son, day by day, moment by moment.
That is your identity.  That is who you are.
Your future may be a mystery.  But if you are living in God’s will, you can strive to ensure that it glorify Him.
So express your personality.  Continue to experiment with various interests and careers.  Don’t let yourself become a follower.  Be a leader, an example of Christ-like living.  Shine the love of Jesus to a lost and dying world.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you “can’t” do this or “shouldn’t” do that.  If it is within God’s will, than do it.  Get outside of yourself and outside of your comfort zone and serve God where it counts.  Are you passionate about abortion?  Volunteer at your local pregnancy counseling center, partcipate in walks for life, speak out in your church and community.  And don’t let anyone tell you that that’s weird.  Let your science class know that you believe in creation.  Talk about your Savior openly with your friends.  And don’t be afraid…God says that He did not give you a spirit of fear, but of courage.  So be courageous and strong because He is enabling you.
Do you want to change this world for Christ?
Then go for it.
And most importantly of all, pray.  This is a very crucial time in your life.  So ask for God’s guidance, protection and wisdom as you make decisions that will affect the rest of your life.  Pray without ceasing.
Remember, you have one life.  One chance.  One opportunity to glorify God.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated by a frowning society and group of peers.  Grab your life with both hands and use it as an opportunity to glorify your Savior.
Remember, you are not your own, you are bought with a price.  Ask others for godly counsel and wisdom, don’t become indepedent from your brothers and sisters in Christ.  You need them.  Submit to your parent’s counsel and guidance, they have been through the teenage years and know what it’s like.  Be humble.  Look for godly friends who will influence you in a good way.  Read your Bible incessantly, and pray constantly.  Attend church, it is impossible to grow outside of it.  That is the way God designed things.  You need the training and accountability of the local body.  You are not an army of one.  Remember to help others, get outside of yourself and reach out to others.  Don’t obsess about all these difficult decisions: as you keep doing the right thing and serving others, God will make the future clear for you.  Make a difference.  Speak out.  Live your faith, walk your talk.  Make a difference, make a change.  Be bold in sharing your faith.  Have a voice.  Don’t go with the flow, sometimes you have to go upstream.  Don’t go through life without making an impact.  Have compassion, love, kindness.  Be bold and strong.  Be brave.  Don’t be intimidated, when your words are God’s words, scream them from the housetops.  Remember to be gracious and loving always.  Inspire others to stand up with you.  Be the change you want to see in this world.
Because alone, we are nothing.  But with God, all things are possible.
Remember: this is life.  So live it.  And live it loud.
Live for an audience of One.

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