Reflections of a 17-year-old (something i wrote for Teen Ink)

Warning! This will probably be offensive to some people: READ ANYWAY.

I am a Christian. I am a girl and I am 17. I have a very strong opinion that does change when I talk to people, or read others' opinions. I've read many atheist articles, and every time I read one, I try to leave a comment on what I believe, to present the opposite argument. It's hard to give a clear cut opinion when you're responding just to one thing some random person pointed out to you, so I'm going to try and give it here.

First off, I chose my belief. My mom and dad are both Christians, though they didn't grow up in Christian homes. They raised me to be a Christian, but I ultimately choose everything that I believe in. You can't force someone to believe in anything, it is everyone's own choice. I choose to believe in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Bible. Other people have influences on me too, friends, friends' parents, family who aren't believers, people who write other articles on teen ink, and the pastors at my church.

Second, you don't have to agree with anything I say. You are very free to oppose, and oppose strongly what I say. Just please don't write hate at me. I want to show love and truth with this article. I know that Christians tend to have the reputation of "preaching" "shoving religion down people's throats" maybe disrespecting others' beliefs. I respect you. If you don't agree with me, then I don't agree with you, but I don't hate you, and I do respect you. I know that on these topics, I get excited sometimes, and I rant a little. I will try to do so as little as possible.

I am a sinner. All people are sinners; I believe that. Only God is holy. When I accepted Jesus as my savior, I changed. I was reborn. Resurrected. Given a new life in Christ. Salvation through faith is mine to have and to hold, I need only supply the faith. Faith is hard. But Jesus says that you need only to have faith the size of a mustard seed and you can move mountains. Does he mean that if I say, "Mountain, move!" that it will move? If it's his will that that mountain should be moved to prove his glory and power, then yes, it will move. But more importantly, he means that with faith, even though it is small and struggling, the impossible becomes possible.

James 1:2-8 "Consider it all joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you many be perfect and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously and without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

How do I know that I am saved? Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." I confess that Jesus is my Lord and believe in my heart that God did raise him from the dead. I know I am saved.

How do know that I am born again? John 3:5-8 "Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'you must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.""

1 Peter 1:18-25 "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring world of God. For, 'All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.' And this is the word that was preached to you."

Life following Jesus is not easy. It's hard to let him take control. It's hard to trust that he knows what is best for me. It's hard to see beauty in pain, and light in darkness. It's also hard to walk on broken glass, hard to pick of the pieces and glue yourself back together. It's hard to maintain that mask, it's hard not to stop swimming, it's sometimes hard to believe that life isn't just shades of grey.

Life following Jesus. What does that mean? It means doing hard things: letting him take control, trusting him, seeing beauty in pain, and light in darkness. The thing is, every time I try to do things on my own, it just doesn't work. It's ends in tears and broken pieces of myself. He sees beauty and light so much better than I do. And when I look through his eyes, my world is not just shades of grey, but colors of love and joy and peace.

I don't like to walk on the broken glass of my pathetic walls. I don't like looking at myself in the mirror and wondering how many layers of masks I need to get rid of this time. I don't like reaching…and falling.

I write poems, maybe you've read some of them. A lot of my poems I write for God, for Jesus. There are so many thing I can't say out loud, but I can say through my fingers. I know that God hears me just as well. Prayer. It's a powerful thing. More powerful that nuclear bombs. It's my lifeline. When I pray, I'm not offering up some form, I'm not just saying words, reciting Sunday School answers. I'm talking with my Father.

As much as I possibly can, I want to be His Pure-hearted Princess. My favorite verse used to be Isaiah 55:12, but then I found another one that has very specific and special meaning to me. I want to tell you a little about how it has changed my life. 1 Peter 3:3-4 "Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair or putting on of gold jewelry - or the clothing your wear, but let it be the inner person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." That's mostly ESV. My other passages have been NIV, if you wanted to know. Back to the verse. I read that in a book, and it just stuck with me. It means more than just - beauty is on the inside, that's what God cares about. I want to take these verses apart and explain how they shape my Christian life.

First off, "Do not let your adorning be external." For most of my life, I did not struggle with this. I still don't struggle that much - with caring how I look. I don't really mind if my hair is slightly messy when I'm with friends, or if my shirts are from walmart. I don't even mind so much when I forget to wear earrings. But then I looked at this from another angle. I do care about my image, just not my face, not my body. I care about what symbolizes me, and I found that it was not a respectful, gentle, sweet attitude that I used to see in myself. I'd been slowly changing from who I truly am and God wants me to be. I do act differently with different friends. I do puff up or lay back depending on what going on around me. I'm wearing masks, and that's not the Princess I want to be for God.

"The braiding of hair or putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing your wear." Same idea, and it reminds me not to get caught up in how I look. That doesn't mean that I want to look bad, or that I pay no attention, but I want to keep myself focused on whether or not I dress modestly, not whether I'm in on the latest fashion trend.

"But let it be the inner person of the heart." This is a big part. The inner person of my heart, well, often I don't think she exists. I push her down and create fake versions that I think will be more accepted, or that my friends will think is cooler. That is not what I want to be, but that I let myself become. When I look back at how I let myself change, I feel a stranger to myself. It's crazy! I feel God looking down at me and asking, "Child, where have you gone? I can't see you anymore." I want to be a PURE princess of the King. I don't want to be a fake.

"With the imperishable (or) unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit." Does that mean that I should sit at home knitting doilies? No! It means, instead of a rebellious lion, or a puffed up peacock, I should have the humble spirit of a little child. In God's eyes, we are all his children. I want to have unfading beauty. I want to be beautiful for my creator, for my Father. When I sit back and let other cares go, and focus on my inner person of the heart, knowing that unfading beauty is better than what anybody else thinks, you can't imagine the peace. I will sit and close my eyes, and I get tears, because I feel the warmth and peace of God's love falling down in buckets upon my head. I can feel his hand on my shoulder. His love is worth immeasurably more than anything of this earth, which is not surprising; he created it all!

"Which in God's sight is very precious." I love that. Just knowing that God finds me very precious - that is worth everything and anything it takes. I want that. I want to give up everything for you. To be precious and pure and beautiful for him. It's the most wonderful, amazing feeling.

I am loved. I am His. I am His princess, precious, beautiful child. I am saved. I am born again. I know that, and nothing will every make me give it up. Jesus is everything, and I belong to him. He Loves Me. That's enough.