Dear 17-and-a-half-year-old Callie,
I hope this finds you well (this is how you start all of your letters nowadays). I’m proud of you for making hard decisions to follow Jesus when it’s weird to do so genuinely. Yes, the irony of Christian schooling is mind-boggling. Praise God He has reached through so many positive influences to bring you to this point! You’re enjoying Matthew, aren’t you? Yea, I’m studying John now. You’ve studied a lot over the years, but you still love the gospels.
You have a lot ahead of you, but I want you to know three things. I won’t ruin all of the surprises, but here are three to better shape your mental framework.
1. You’re Not Jesus
I know you think you know this, but there’s more to it. You’ll be canvassing this summer, and a leader will say “If Jesus was at the door, every single person would get a book!”
This sounds inspirational and all, but it’s not true. If Judas can trade Jesus for a slave’s price after being with Him for three years, the rich young ruler can value his possessions above eternal life, and a convicted Pilate prefer men’s praise over blood-less hands, then I’m confident some people would say no to Jesus at the doors. This is sad, and merits much prayer, but it’s not your fault. You will get better at telling people about Jesus, but don’t hate yourself when everyone didn’t get a book. If people said no to Jesus, they’ll say no to you—both at the doors and every other kind of ministry.
But you’ll also lead a lot of people to Jesus. And by “lead” I mean He shines through you because you know Him. You know how people can tell you and the best friend are best friends by the way you laugh and walk? It’s like that, but even more. Don’t worry about being like a certain preacher or mentor or Jesus-follower. You are uniquely you and Jesus uses that to reach specific people in specific places. Just let Him.
2. All Humans Are Human
Your parents have graciously laid the foundation for your growth in Christ and character, and they still encourage you. I know that preacher with the big glasses is pretty great, and he still is. Your tall mentor is still full of wisdom, and your soft-smiling teacher still says things that take weeks to unravel. You’ll have many more mentors in the future, and you’ll be s t r e t c h e d by their profound influence on your life.
But they will fail you. All of them. I don’t mean to scare you, but they’re imperfect. They’re human. They’re further along on this Christian journey, but only Jesus is Jesus. They won’t always have the answers, and sometimes they give the wrong ones. They won’t handle all of your blunders with perfect grace and truth, but that’s because they need grace and truth. Don’t hold it against them. They lean on the same everlasting arms you do. Cherish this tie that binds. These generals you see from afar will become your fellow soldiers, and they often need your prayers and encouraging words as much as you need theirs.
Furthermore, all humans are human. They may look scary when you’re trying to share Jesus with them, but rest assured, they crave affection like you do, desire peace like you do, and enjoy connection like you do. It shows up differently, but we’re all human. Remember this when the devil tries to magnify differences through fear and ignorance. Every man is your brother and every woman is your sister—you just don’t know them yet.
3. You Are Gifted
Self-consciousness is not a badge, Callie. Neither is self-debasement, nor self-hatred. These are all distortions of humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
Jesus has given you gifts to serve Him. How can you take pride in gifts? You didn’t give them to yourself, and you will not use them for yourself. Use them to bless others. Let your light so shine. You are not supposed to do everything for everyone everywhere (nor can you); but you are to fulfill the calling on your life with the gifts that He has placed in you. Also, it’s okay that it takes time to figure out your gifts and calling. And by time, I mean years. It’s a journey worth walking, because Jesus walks there.
Which of these do you resonate with the most? What else would you tell yourself when beginning your Christian journey? Let me know in the comments below!