This past weekend I experienced a first. I spoke at a high school girls’ retreat. Yes, I have had teen girls in my audiences, but this was the first time teen girls were my primary audience. We had a ball!
My heart’s desire was for these girls to know how much God loved them, how much care He took in making each one, how to come into relationship with Him and live for Him and what that looks like.
Today I want to share part of what I shared with those precious teens. They, not you, will be to whom I am speaking in this blog.
What I Would Tell You If You Were My Daughter
These are three adjectives that will help me know you better:
Enthusiastic, inquisitive, and passionate.
Enthusiastic—I am excited about living my life. If I’m involved in something, I’m excited about it. Enthusiasm is how I live my life.
Inquisitive—I love learning and finding the answers to my questions. And not in a Trivial Pursuit kind of way. Who cares who was king of England in 1700? I’m curious about how can I make a difference? What was I made to do? How can I do life so not be involved in drama, stressed. How can I stop getting myself into trouble?
Passionate—I believe deeply in what I give my time, energy, and heart to. I am here because I am passionate that you girls know God, how crazy He is about you, and how to live the amazing life He has for you. I am passionate that you know His truth. I am a passionate wife, mom, and grandma—not in an obsessive-my-kids-are-my-life way, but I want to always do what is best for them, be there for them, and help them when I’m asked.
But I wasn’t always so sure of who I am. In middle school I wanted to be part of the cool group. Tell story of slumber party. Looking back I’m not sure why they were the cool kids. They had fewer rules than I did and they looked like they were having fun, but who really knows. In high school I settled into a good group of friends. We weren’t the popular group, but we had a good time together.
But when I was a young mom I fell back into that trap of wanting to be part of the cool group. I let myself be a part of their gossip and drama. Finally God let me know I was on a bad path. He let me get caught.
From that season of my life, I decided I was finished trying to be a part of the group. Yes, I wanted good friends, but that was not how it was done. We will talk more about friendships later. I also learned that my identity was not in being part of a group. God gave me the urge to pull back and be okay being who I am in relationship with Him.
That is the definition of your identity in the Lord—being okay (even more than okay, happy, content, fulfilled) in being who you are in relationship with God.
Part of my problem in middle school is that I wasn’t sure of who I was. My best friend knew who she was and I kept trying to be like her. She was artistic and athletic—two things I was not.
In this session we are going to talk about who you are, celebrating who you are, and being in relationship with God, because without Him nothing else about me matters. My relationship with God gives my life purpose and meaning.
Who Are You?
It took years for me to discover that happiness and fulfillment did not come from being the best friend of a cool person. I couldn’t do what my friend did—art and athletics—because God did not make me to do those things. And even if He had made me that way, I would have still been copying my friend and not pursuing them in the way God made me to do so because I was too intent on being like my friend. The real me was not only overshadowed, she was almost smothered by the shadow of my friend.
It wasn’t until I got married that I had a space to discover the real me. My husband, Gene, was the cheerleader I needed to do so. Looking back over my life I see places where the real me tried to come through. When I was in junior high my family took a vacation with my grandparents. To me it was a crazy adventure unlike anything we had ever done. It ignited in me a stirring to write. It was as if I had to write down what we were experiencing so it could be remembered forever. Our experiences were too fun to let them slip through our memories. So I wrote a book about it. I typed it up on my big ole pica typewriter. My first book.
I remember another vacation in the Rocky Mountains. I had a little point-and-shoot camera. It is called a Kodak Instamatic. One evening my family and I went to a program put on by the forest ranger. He talked about photographing the wild flowers in the park. That is all it took to ignite in me a desire to take pictures. Again, by taking pictures I can keep the memory of the experience alive. Something about recording life in word and picture is part of the real me.
I don’t want you to have to wait until you are married to discover the real you. Start thinking about who you are.
Three interests. What ignites in you something you feel compelled to do?
Three personality traits. Describes how you approach life. Words like—thoughtful, calm, enthusiastic, responsible, generous, kind, gentle, rowdy, prefer to be alone or with one or two good friends/family members, enjoys many friends and being with lots of people.
Three talents. What comes naturally to you? Yes, it will need work (training, practice, classes, etc.) but the raw talent flows from you.
If you can’t come up with three in each category, no worries. This is just to get you started thinking about who you are. Discovering and defining who you are is a lifelong process.
Look at your lists. Think about who or what in your life does not align with who you are. Maybe you are in the chorus at school and you can’t sing (another crazy thing I did for a friend). Maybe one of your friends insists on you running with her but you would rather be concocting a new recipe in the kitchen. Maybe you are in a group of friends where your ideas and thoughts are not valued or heard. Prayerfully consider these and maybe talk it over with a leader or a parent. Is God nudging you towards a change?
The above is a great start to discovering the person God made you to be. Psalm 139 is a personal letter from God to us telling us just how detailed He made us, how involved He was in our design and creation. You are no accident. You are handmade by the Almighty, one and only God. Please do not try to be like anyone else. You are more than enough. You are spectacular.
I would love to hear a few of the things that make you you! Comment below or email me.
*I will post the second part to this message on Wednesday.
If you or a tween or teen you know would like the handout with takeaway points and discussion questions, email me and I will forward them to you.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.