January 22, 2015

Dear High Schooler Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

I wish we could sit down and have a chat. I wish I could share with you some of my experiences in dating and looking for love in all the wrong places.

And even more so, I wish I could introduce you to my sister. She has such a beautiful story to share.

It’s filled with heartache and pain and embarrassment and choosing the wrong path for awhile, but also filled with grace and love and maturity and true joy.

You see, my sister was seventeen when she had her first baby.

As you well know, that’s not usually the age girls think about having children. 

At that age, my sister was in high school with a life that revolved around sports and friends. She was one of those all-around stud athletes: playing basketball, volleyball, and softball. She had lots of great friends, and a fun social life.

But as with many high schoolers, she also struggled with insecurities – insecurities that led to making poor choices:

Am I pretty enough?

Am I good enough?

Am I worth loving?

The answers to these questions can be hard to find – when you look in all the wrong places.

You see, it’s natural for a human to desire love. But so often we forget that the love we actually need can’t be found in people, or activities, or things.

Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places, if you could sit down and chat with my sister, here are a few things she would tell you from her experiences:

Daughter of the King – stop looking for a kind of love that only Jesus can offer.

Stop trying to find lasting satisfaction in your friendships and dating relationships.

Stop being deceived. Giving everything (your time, your energy, your thoughts, your body) to someone will not make them love you unconditionally.

And after telling you to stop, she would say this:

To the One Whom God Delights in – begin again:

Begin to recognize that no human person can deliver the satisfaction that comes from a relationship with God. Only God can provide the unconditional love and affection that we strive for. Even someone in a relationship with the right person can still be looking for love in all the wrong places. Relationships built on the mentality of trying to find fulfillment are doomed to failure, and will leave you lonely. 

Begin to recognize the relationship with God you are missing out on. The Christian life is not simply about going to church, youth group, or Christian schools. It’s not just about having a supportive family. It’s about putting your whole heart into a relationship with Christ. Begin to recognize where you are just going through the motions, and where you lost the passion that is essential for your faith to be rock solid.

Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places,

You are not alone.

We all do this – we look for satisfaction in a new outfit, shoes, phones, TV’s, friends, dating relationships, you name it. The difference is that as you get older, you simply shift your focus to other things you think might satisfy – a good college, a new job, getting married, having kids. But the truth is, none of them can even compare to what God offers us when we submit ourselves to Him instead of worldly things that do not last.

When your insecurities lead to bad choices (like pre-marital sex), and your bad choices lead to huge life changes (like having a baby), suddenly the things you thought were so important (like sports or who you will hang out with Friday night) aren’t anymore.

My sister could tell you what it was like to be pregnant in high school, what it was like to have a baby during her senior year.

No more sports. Limited social life. No scholarships. Limited choices of where to go to college. Praise God I had supportive parents who were helpful in every way.

She could tell you about what life has been like beyond high school.

I got married on June 15, 2013. I graduate from Grand Valley’s nursing program in just a few months. And I am the youngest mom in my daughter’s kindergarten class, which brings its own insecurities.

But she could also tell you how God has demonstrated His unconditional grace and has created absolute beauty, even from her worst mistakes:

“In my daughter’s eyes I am a hero. I am strong and wise and I know no fear. But the truth is plain to see, she was sent to rescue me. I see who I want to be in my daughter’s eyes.” (song by Martina McBride)

Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places, I wish you could know how truly beautiful, smart, and talented you are. 

I wish you could know how even though adults look like they have it all together, that we struggle with some of the same insecurities too. I wish you could know how we haven’t always made the best choices in our relationships either, and that sex or “going too far” or giving too much away in a dating relationship is a temptation to many.

I think it’s important to remember that being pregnant is not against God’s will. It is the act of premarital sex. That is the sin. 

It is so important to not judge girls who are pregnant. If every girl and boy who had premarital sex became pregnant together, there would be a lot more pregnant people in this world.

Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places,

#1) It is so important to surround yourself with good people who will encourage you in the direction of God’s love and grace. Sometimes it just takes that one person to send you down the wrong path. And on the other hand, sometimes it only takes that one to get you back on track.

#2) Growing up, many of us find it difficult, uncomfortable, and even shameful to talk about sex. But remember that sex is a purely beautiful act when used how God designed it to be within a marriage.

#3) Understand WHY. We are told over and over as we grow up to “save ourselves for marriage.” But until you understand WHY God designed it this way, that statement doesn’t hold much value. When you forget the WHY, then it’s easy to toss your beliefs out the window when temptation arises.

#4) And finally, Sweet Child of God, know that it is never too late to make the right choices in your life and in your relationships. God wipes our sins as white as snow when we ask Him to.

Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places,

Are you pretty enough?

Are you good enough?

Are you worth loving?

A thousand times yes. Just remember that the answers to those questions are much easier to find when you look for Love in the right place.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra and Her Brave, Beautiful Sister, Mackenzy