Reflecting on the teen years in high school, we can all remember that girl. You know, that girl that always needed a boyfriend, validation from a guy, and would flirt with your crush because she always desired to be desired. Yep, you know that girl. Especially if you were best friends with that girl and anytime she was in a relationship, you easily became Secondhand Sally or third wheel Tina and your fun times together were now spent either with their flavor of the week of listening to this girl go on and on about her new love and how this time it was real.
God bless those best friends of that girl.
The worst part about reflecting on this is realizing I was that girl. The emotions and disappointment in realizing this was me was surprisingly shocking, and the guilt felt realizing how I treated my friends is even worse.
Why am I reflecting? Well, apparently my high school is celebrating it’s 50th year of school and so there was a facebook page made to get all alumni together. I hardly ever think about high school or junior high because I couldn’t wait to get out of there. My favorite memories are all after graduation so it’s not really something I reflect on. Going back and thinking about high school, junior high, past friendships, gave me the itch to go search for old pictures in my storage tub only to disappointed in my lack of findings. Not because I didn’t have memories but because I had trashed any type of memorabilia that had an old boyfriend in it.
Upon my engagement, I was so thrilled about marrying the man of my dreams, a man who was pure and saved every part of him for his wife while I came with so much baggage, past, and history of exes. I allowed my guilt and shame of my past to burden me and put me in fear that my future husband wouldn’t accept me for who I used to be so I threw away everything having to do with an ex. This included pictures, group pictures, diaries, notes with friends, everything. I was so weak at that moment in life, I didn’t think twice about it.
Looking back on it, I don’t really hold any regrets about removing the old from my life, but I do wish I had more memorabilia of my teenage years. But that’s the sad part. I always had to have a boyfriend, I always forced my boyfriends and friends to be friends and anything I did or memories I had always had a boyfriend in it. Therefore going through my old stuff, I realized I only had about 15 pictures of memories in a gap of 8 years because I had placed such an emphasis on having a boyfriend, I didn’t find anything else important enough at the time to save. I started thinking of the times I didn’t have a boyfriend…which weren’t many…and I thought about my friendships I had and lost and the saddest part was coming to realize I had some pretty great friends in my life who I let slide because I was selfish. I had such a low self esteem and desired attention so badly from a guy, that I allowed some pretty good friendships to slip. I did not treat my friends as nice as I should have. I can remember even stealing my friends crush just because I wanted that attention so badly. I so needed Jesus so badly and I didn’t even know it. I had this big, wide open, vulnerable hole in my life that I so desperately wanted to feel loved, wanted, needed, etc… that when I could have filled it with Christ, I filled it with lots of boys who would hurt me, boys who’s attention and promises were temporary, and with so much heartache. This hole would get bigger with every failed relationship and yet I still missed the big picture. I needed the only love that was unfailing, unending, and everlasting. I could not be more thankful for the woman who saw this in me and led me to the Lord. Oh the joy of salvation and the freedom that gave me.
Now this was not an overnight ending to this struggle for me. I struggled with this need for love and acceptance for years after salvation. It was honestly after meeting my would-be husband. Not many people know this, but we hit a rough patch right after our engagement where there was doubt about whether we should be married. I remember spending an afternoon talking with our pastor at church and asking him “what do I do if he realizes he doesn’t want to marry me?”. This amazing pastor proceeding to draw a picture. He drew my name on the bottom of one side, my husbands on the other and then drew God on top middle. He said each of us have our own line when we achieve salvation that leads to our God in Heaven. He proceeded to draw our lines going up. Then he said, it is only marriage, that unity brings your lines together and leads you to Heaven. He proceeded to draw a line from my name and my husband’s name that met in the middle and both went upward to God’s. He then says “Right now it’s just your line. You cannot make his line join your line unless you marry. If he decides not to marry you, you just keep on your line and he keeps on his. You still have a loving, heavenly Father leading you and he will never leave you.” This sounds so much simpler than this ah-Ha moment I had, but it was a moment of clarity, realizing I didn’t need someone else to fulfill me, I needed only God. God was the only one that would not leave me, that was permanent, worthy, and wouldn’t hurt me. He was what needed to be the center of my life and I could only succeed through Christ. The beautiful story is, we did get married and our lines are now joined. But sheesh it took a lot of work to get there. Maybe what ended up working so well was my husband seeing that I loved God more than him. Hmm…
I know having a relationship can sometimes feel like the most important thing in the world, especially as a teenager, but if you do not seek God first, you will not be successful. Do you want to look back in life and see all these relationships you went through, all the past hurts, and have a little bit of you taken away before you get to your spouse? Spend your high school years developing a strong foundation in your heavenly Father, your creator. Because He won’t leave you feeling worthless, ashamed, empty, or broken hearted. We cannot only come to God for healing after a relationship we didn’t allow God to be a part of, He will still love you and comfort you because we have such an amazing forgiving and loving God, but we can keep our relationship with God at a higher priority than any relationship. And treat your friends like family. Love them, tell them their value, don’t dispose of them the second a guy/girl comes around, and respect them. If you are that girl like I was, apologize to them.
To my friends who stuck with me during these selfish, boy crazy, attention needing years—thank you. You have no idea how much I value you for your unconditional love and commitment to our friendship. I’m so sorry if I ever made you feel less than what you were and for not being a better friend to you when you deserved it.
To my old friends that I lost – I’m sorry. I know that an apology does not repair or change anything regarding how I treated you. I never put your first or second and I was so selfish of a friend. I’m sorry for making you feel less than. Just know that you made an impact on my life, and have taught me a great lesson. I’m sorry for treating you poorly, putting a boy before you and our friendship and I hope you found a great friend that gave you the friendship you deserved.
It’s always easier to look at things in hindsight. I only wish I had known then what I know now. Who knows, maybe I would have had better grades, been more involved in school, and my life would have gone in an entirely different direction. But as I always say to my husband – we cannot live in a state of could have, would have, should haves. I can learn from this, seek forgiveness, and move forward. I will treat my friends with the love and friendship they deserve, and I will always seek God first in everything. I pray that I can teach these to my children and to any students I can share my testimony.
I love that song by Tenth Avenue North…those lyrics stand true in this lesson…
You are more.
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.