If I remember it correctly, being a teenager can be Hell.
In the middle of so much changing in and around you, it can impossible to figure out just who you are.
Trying to navigate it all; the desire to fit in, the fear of rejection, the cruelty of other people, and your own daily inconsistency—can all be rightly disorienting. Some days it’s a battle just to take the next tentative step into the world, knowing what might be waiting for you out there. It’s not a natural thing to purposefully walk toward pain that way.
I don’t need to tell you this.
You know it all too well. You understand better than most teenagers, and that’s why I’m writing to you.
I can’t fathom what it’s like to be stumbling to finding yourself, while being told by the voices around you that this self is an abomination; to be discovering truths about you, that instead of bringing joy, only confirm your greatest fears that you are different and that this difference is a liability. The tension that can create within a young soul must be nearly too much to bear.
I can’t imagine how much it hurts to hide in the middle of the crowds, to be silent about the deepest longings of your heart with those close to you, to sit in the middle of a joke that is about you and having to laugh along with friends and peers oblivious to the bomb going off inside you—and to believe that God Himself is against you.
It must be exhausting to keep your guard up all the time; to have to weigh every word, manage every conversation, carefully maintain the facade at home and at school and with friends, so as not to ever be fully transparent. It must be a nightmare to never get to be real anywhere.
And I guess I just wanted to tell you that I see you and that I’m sorry if this is the road you have to walk, because you deserve far better.
I wanted to encourage you not to let the voices around you drown out the one within you, because that one is the only one worth listening to. And I don’t mean the voice that now parrots back the terrible things they may have said about you. I’m not talking about an inner voice that’s gradually learned to agree with the bullies and bigots and the brimstone preachers.
I’m talking about the voice that says, “Yes, this is who I really am.”
Because that is the voice you need to cherish and protect and to hold tightly too, until you are able to speak and fully live what that voice tells you. One day I pray you will be able to do that. One day you’ll feel strong enough or loved enough or safe enough to say everything. But that day isn’t anyone’s business but yours. It will happen on your terms and in your time.
But in the meantime, I wanted you to know that you are loved; not only the carefully crafted version of you that you share with the world to protect yourself, but the real, true, most authentic you that so rarely gets to show itself.
That you, much of whom you are still discovering, is original and beautiful and made for greatness.
Keep going, dear friend and know that someone sees you and is for you.
Be so encouraged today.
Get John’s Email Newsletter
Receive regular updates with speaking dates, media links, book launches, shareable graphics, and regular content regarding stuff that needs to be said.