Embracing Seventeen

Embracing Seventeen.png

i.

 

I turned seventeen this past Sunday – on April second, two-thousand seventeen.

 

If you don’t know me personally, you may not have known my age until now.

 

And it’s not as if it’s a secret – I simply decided a while ago that I didn’t want people to judge me or my writing on my age alone, or have to try and explain when I mention school that I’m a college student, even though I’m supposed to be a high school student, and kind of still am for a few more months.

 

(See? Complicated.)

 

But something hit me really hard last week. I was talking to some college friends, and coming to the realization that the average age of the majority of my friends is around twenty years old.

 

And it’s funny – because I joke about it all the time, the fact that I forget that I’m not twenty, myself.

 

But it’s more than just a joke.

 

After spending almost an entire week discussing everything under the sun with a dear friend, a friend that’s my own age, I realized how important it was that I don’t forget that I’m only seventeen.

 

I’ll only ever be seventeen once.

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Where to Find Hope in Pain

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I probably don’t have to tell you that life’s really tough, sometimes.

 

I’ve done so many posts about pain – about depression and anxiety, about feelings of hopelessness, about when life throws things at us that we’re not ready for, about what we’re supposed to do when we literally have no idea what to do.

 

Life’s messy.

 

Painful.

 

Confusing.

 

And my first reaction, honestly, is to go hide away in my room and look for a distraction.

 

It’s awkward to admit that, but it’s true. I want distraction over comfort, desperate feelings over peace, extremes over hope.

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Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain

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Often, I’ll look around me and see those people that just seem to have everything so together.

 

Whether online or face to face, there are always those people that simply seem to have life down. They’re walking around, living life, and gently saying things like, “Oh yes, I trust God,” and “Of course I can feel how much God loves me,” and “I am so content, no matter what.”

 

And seeing those people like that…it’s so inspiring, yet oftentimes so intimidating.

 

Because it’s easy for us to say, or at least for me to say, “I trust You, God,” when life is simple.

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How to Satisfy the Human Desire for Love, Joy, and Fulfillment

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Humanness.

 

There’s something so interesting about being a human being, living in this seemingly endless series of experiences and emotions, events and times of extreme joy and extreme pain.

 

Life is so beautiful, and so fragile, and we can be so sensitive to all of it.

 

I know I am.

 

I’ve noticed this pattern in myself and those around me, of being caught in this awkward middle place of knowing that the Christian answer is that only Jesus can satisfy me – and yet still chasing after these things that I’m sure will bring me happiness.

 

Because deep down, we all have these intrinsic desires in our hearts. And they’re not wrong at all. Unlike Buddhism, which says “All life is suffering, and suffering comes from desire; therefore, rid yourself of desire,” I say, no, we should keep on desiring.

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How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 3)

How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study_ Week 3)

I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday again! Happy Hebrews Summer Bible Study, my friends.

 

Grab some coffee (or the beverage of your choice), and come sit outside with me and as all of us study the scriptures together.

 

If you’re new, you’re welcome to hop right in where we are now! You don’t have to have done the first two weeks if you haven’t done them yet, but of course it’ll only help and give you a chance to get a feel for what we’re doing here.

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Are We Happy Yet?

Are We Happy Yet 

This is part 3 in my impromptu Christmas series. See the first two parts also, Peace on Earth and Christmas is Love.

 

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

 

Yes, it is wonderful, but where are we basing this wonder on? What makes us so merry? (Abrupt introductions, anyone?)

 

Joy and happiness are hugely discussed when it comes to Christmas. I mean, hello, we try to make ourselves as happy as possible with gifts for ourselves and others, food, by hanging out with family and loved ones, and making Christmas as magical as we possibly can.

 

What’s not to like?

 

Well, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, I honestly don’t. But with all this happiness that we try to attain, there is a high price. This price is us missing out on what Christmas is all about. *Cue ominous music*

 

I will be the first to tell you that gifts and presents are fabulously wonderful. Shredding wrapping paper to find new cool things in the name of a holiday celebration is wondrously great.

 

But have you ever noticed how unhappy we get after Christmas? All this work we’ve put into one day of the year – and it is OVER. DONE. Adios, Pablos. No more Christmas for you.

 

By looking past Jesus to the presents and food and people, we give up lasting, substantial happiness for a cheap knock-off, and we don’t even see it. We tell ourselves that Christmas is supposed to be all about happiness, but as we bend over to pick up the last scraps of tissue paper embedded in the carpet and take the ornaments off of the tree, we think, is this really it?

 

Maybe you’re not as dramatic as I am. But I do know this: We get so caught up in all the hoopla and huzzah of Christmas, that it can end up as a huge letdown on December 26th when it’s all over. So much for happiness.

 

See, friends, Christmas does not come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. – Thank you Dr. Seuss, for that lovely quote from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s very true.

 

You can’t buy enough happy to make Christmas a good one. Really, you can’t. When I was younger, Mom took me to the beach and gave me some shovels and let me dig. Dig and dig and dig I did.

 

Me: If I kept digging down far enough, where will I end up?

Mom: Probably in China.

Me: *digs for a while* Am I at China yet?

Mom: I don’t think quite yet. The world’s pretty big, you know.

Me: Do I see a light down there? Is it China?

Mom: Honey, I think you’re seeing a reflection of the sun. But keep on digging. You might actually get there.

Me: Okay. *amuses myself with digging for hours*

 

You can imagine how the rest of that went. Needless to say, I never did find China, but I learned an important lesson.

 

You can attempt to dig through an impossible situation, or you can find the existing way. If I really wanted to go to China, I should have taken a plane, not a shovel.

 

Now here is the hopefully-sane translation of my wacky little story.

 

Every Christmas, most of us dig around looking for happiness, myself included. If we just go to enough parties…just get enough presents…just spend enough time with others…just make enough yummy foods…just do this or that…THEN and ONLY THEN will we be actually, truly happy. The sad thing is, that year after year of doing this, and becoming discontent, we still tell ourselves that it’ll make us happy.

 

And so the cycle repeats. And we become insatiable. But this shouldn’t be so.

 

We say Christmas is a time for happiness, and we are absolutely right. We can be happy, just like we can go to China. But we get there a different way, instead.

 

If we want happiness, we have to accept the real meaning of Christmas. Why do we even celebrate it in the first place?

 

We celebrate Christmas because of the birth of the Messiah. Jesus. But not simply the fact that he was born, but because of what that signified. It signified that 1) the GOD of all things EVER came to us in human form because He LOVES us, 2) we are not forgotten and forsaken even though deep down, we do the wrong things CONSTANTLY, and 3) the satisfaction and happiness we all search for has been FULFILLED. He came to give us a new nature, to put off our sin and make us bright and shiny.

 

What do we all yearn for? Meaning in life. Happiness. Contentment. Or society has contradicted this by giving everyone a big case of Holiday Discontentment. However, we do not have to keep it this way.

 

By looking at the birth of Jesus for what it truly is, and not just something to put on the mantle, we can find that satisfaction. By accepting His amazing love and sacrifice for us, in that will we find happiness. If you want to read more about this (and why I refer to this lasting happiness as ‘joy’) then check out this post.

 

By seeing the significance of who Jesus is – God in flesh, who dwelt among us – we can really and truly be happy.

 

And now, a passage to close with.

 

Philippians 2:5-10

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Have a wonderful day, friends. Merry Christmas once again.

 

*aj