I wrote this specifically for teens. Young people so want to be included, to not stand out, to be part of ‘the group,’ which ever group they have decided upon. The gauge as to what is acceptable or cool, or the ‘in’ place to be is so elusive and ever changing. But wanting to belong is constant. Young people want to ‘fit in,’ but they don’t always know where they belong.

So the idea of being ‘odd’ because of a lived faith in Jesus Christ can be terrifying. It’s always amused me the way so many teens want to be different, like all their peers! They fail to see that in their ‘differences,’ they are now acting in a fairly uniform manner after all.

To really stand out from your peers, from the crowd, is not what many teens actually desire at all. They desperately want to be accepted by others and a lot of the time will repress their own desires, their own likes, their own wishes and goals, to be “acceptable.”

What they so often fail to realize is that God loves them just as they are, right now. And if they submerge themselves into that Love that doesn’t see their faults, but only the person, frail and uncertain, longing to be loved, how happy they would truly be.

So, here’s what I wrote to try to begin a dialogue about how they can be authentically themselves and be loved and find strength there, in being different, like their Savior always was. And is to this very day.

 

You know how we’re supposed to be a light in the world?

Only sometimes it’s hard because doing things

No one else does, or

Not doing things everyone does,

Is embarrassing.

I know.

And life is so much easier if we don’t have to ask,

“Is this right?”

“Is this true?”

But the One who wants us to be light

Loves us so much,

We have to consider His request.

To be that light,

You’ve got to commit.

Or better yet, you have to surrender.

Turn away from all that the world says you need to be, to own, to do,

to be ‘acceptable.’

God, the Creator of the Universe, Savior of the world,

Loves you just the way you are.

Right now.

And He’s asking you to be different, peculiar, counter-culture

In today’s world.

The end justifies the means.

Eternal life in the presence of the King – in perfect truth, beauty, and goodness –

We can stand a little ostracism for that, can’t we? A little isolation or ridicule?

Because we love Him;

Because He loved us first

With an eternal, immeasurable, self-denial kind of love.

He died for us,

Because He was different, peculiar, counter-culture

In the world so you could be, too.

He showed you how to do it,

How to be light,

For Love’s sake.

And He told us that He is with us always, until the “end of the age.”

So you’re never alone.

When you find one other person (and you will) who is another flickering flame

In a very dark world,

You are now three!

Two lights and the Light of the World within you,

Surrounding you,

Strengthening you,

Showing you

What’s right,

What’s true.

Each unique individual when joined to another becomes

A formidable force in the world.

You could even say that together, you move from flickering flame to a roaring fire

Of love.

Oh, how bright you’ll shine!

And that

Is a beautiful thing.

 

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena 

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