My teenage years started fresh off the plane in a new country. I was surrounded by change.
Despite moving with my parents and brother, I was afraid and felt alone. I moved from a space where I felt safe, loved, and supported to one where I felt lost, vulnerable, and unsure of what the future held. The unknown can be a scary place.
For a long period of time, I resented my parents for moving me from South Africa. When I was first made aware of my parent’s decision to move, my first reaction was disbelief. This later turned into anger. Throughout the process, I didn’t feel heard and therefore felt disempowered. I had no control in the outcome, we were leaving…full stop.
Why leave!? As a teenager I just couldn’t understand why my parents thought this was a good decision. We had everything going for us. Mum and dad had just finished paying off the mortgage, I was doing well in my first year of high school, my brother was excelling in primary school, we had strong friendship networks, mum and dad both had stable and well-paying jobs, we were involved in church, and we were near family. To leave all of that behind and start from scratch seemed ridiculous.
Everything following the move was challenging and I blamed my parents. In my mind and therefore in my heart, I couldn’t forgive them. I slowly found myself pulling away from my family, and all real communication stopped. Lack of communication with my family, friends and even God, slowly led to isolation. I was surrounded by people but felt completely alone at the same time. It was in this place of disconnect from God and from his people where my thoughts really deteriorated. Why? Because distance and disconnect from God allows space for the lies of the enemy to come in and distort the truth of who God says we are. Over time I slowly started to believe that: I wasn’t cared for, loved, thought of, seen, heard or understood. I believed that I had no purpose and as a result found myself depressed. I am grateful that I found a God who is greater than every false thought. His love found me and changed my life.
This brings me to four points I believe God taught me through my teenage journey, that can help you along yours today.
1. Communication kills isolation.
Our parents/guardians want to be a part of the solution not the problem. However, they can’t be a part of the solution if they don’t know the problem. Communication is key. It was when I started talking about the things that were troubling me that allowed God to breathe life back into my spirit and soul to take back what the enemy stole. So often we believe the lie that we are a burden. You are not a burden! Your issue is not too big for your parent/guardian to handle. More importantly, your issue is not too big for God to handle. Yes, sometimes airing the things we are struggling with is scary and can be agonizing, but it is worth it! There is power in speaking up. It shows strength not weakness to allow yourself to be helped. God can’t heal what you don’t allow him to heal, and the burden is not yours to carry alone – Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
2. The ‘Why’ behind the ‘What’ is not always what you perceive it to be.
As a teenager it was hard to see the big picture. My immaturity and ignorance didn’t allow me to see beyond my immediate surroundings into the future. My parents, however, made their decision out of obedience to God. God saw the big picture and placed it into my parent’s hearts. My future, if we remained in South Africa, was limited. God wanted more for my family and he wanted more for my brother and I. South Africa was not a part of our future and all that which God had planned for our lives. My parent’s obedience to God, despite facing their own fears and feelings of vulnerability, allowed us to be who we are today. As a teenager our parents/guardian’s decisions, rules, and guidelines for our life may seem selfish to us, but really, they have our best interest at heart. They think and plan for what they believe will be the best outcome for us. This is where we need to learn to trust. However, it is also important for us to remove our expectation of our parents to be perfect. They too can make mistakes.
3. Forgiveness is Key
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
If we have relationships that are broken, we owe it to the individual to give them the chance to forgive and be forgiven. I am grateful that through forgivness, my parents and I were able to heal and build back many years of lost relationship. From my journey I learnt that forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. Often, we don’t “feel” like forgiving those who have wronged us, but forgiveness is the vital key to our freedom. God forgave us so that we can forgive – Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Depending on your journey, it can be hard to forget the wrong that has been done to you. Forgiveness may not necessarily mean forget; however, it does mean that we no longer hold that person to account for their actions. God’s greatest commandment is to Love God and Love your neighbor – Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged."
4. Make God the center of your life
Jesus gave his life on the Cross thousands of years ago for your freedom. Why? Because He loves you fiercely and unconditionally. God is a father who never disappoints; He is perfection and He is love. The more I grew to know of my Heavenly Father’s love for me, the more tender my heart became towards people. How? I made Him my center. It is one thing to recognise our need for our Heavenly Father, it is another to humbly come to the Father and confess to him that we need him. By allowing God in, he healed me and freed me from the lies of the enemy. I was reconnected to the source I was created to be connected to and so, it was in that space of intimacy with my Father where truth and purpose was restored. He helped me trust and love again.