Today we are going to be doing things a little differently. Click Here to read Jeremiah 7.
In Jeremiah 7:1-11, we learn that the people of Judah were kind of slacking. They were idolizing other gods. They were exploiting innocent people. They were being lustful and corrupt. They were doing all of this only to turn around and come crawling back to fulfil their "duties" to God. So in other words, they were just going through the motions. They wanted all the things God promised them, but they didn't want to have to live by His standards. So they lived by their own and did only what they had to do in order to seem as though they were still following God. They were under the impression that as long as they did what "needed" to be done, then they would be ok. They would still be right with God. The people of Judah were putting up a front. They were being...well, like the people of today.
Christians today are not really know to be very "Christ-like". The number one thing Christians are known for in our society is to be hypocrites. There are many people who say they are Christians, but their actions say otherwise. They are following the Bible on Sundays at church. But as soon as those church doors are open and the other church goers aren't looking its back to doing whatever they want to: cussing and drinking and smoking and well that's kind of extreme but you get my point.
This is how the people in Jeremiah's time were living. The problem with living like this is that it causes people to forget about one very important aspect: Our Hearts. The problem with living like this is that God doesn't want robots that follow His every command because they think they have to in order to be saved. God's love, His forgiveness can't be earned in that way. God desires something entirely different.
In Jeremiah 7:22 God says, "When I lead your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them." God doesn't want us to stumble through the motions. That was never what He intended. He wants us to follow Him whole-heartedly. He wants us to wake up everyday and say, "I choose Jesus. I choose God." God gave us free will so that we could make the choice to follow Him. He didn't want to force us into anything. God wants a real relationship with us. He want's both, our hearts and our actions, to be dedicated to Him. It doesn't work if we only give God one of the two.
Our hearts are very important. If we don't put our heart into what we do in life, then we are left empty, stumbling our way through many of life's challenges. God wants us to put our hearts into following Him. Being as He gave His son so that we could be forgiven, I'd say that's not too much to ask.
Ding Dong! The door bell rings and Mom makes her way to the front of the house to answer it. My six-year-old curiosity forces me to quietly investigate. I leave my room, dropping my toys along the way, and hide around the corner. Mom opens the door. "Oh, hello Dad," she says, surprised. I crouch down so I can see them, but they can't see me. Grandpa! I want to run to him, but some gut instinct tells me to stay in place.
"Hey," He gives Mom a small smile, "I was wondering if Derrold would want to go fishing next Friday."
I want to go fishing! My mind briefly wanders to the last time I went fishing with Dad. I had caught more crappie than he did and I had been using my little Dora poll. We ended up coming home with a cooler full. Mom seems to read my thoughts. "Could Bridges go with you? She loves fishing."
"It was going to be a guys day…" Jealousy boils up in the pit of my stomach.
"Well what are you going to do with her then? You can't just do something with one and not the other."
"I'm not going to do anything with her. She's not my priority. You can take her fishing."
My eyes got wide. I felt cracks slowly working their way out from the knife he just shoved into my little heart. "Not a priority?!" Mom's voice is defensive, protective.
"She's not as important. The girl is not worth my time," he replies, twisting the knife further into my heart.
"The girl has a name," Mom nearly yells as she slams the door. I hurry off to my room, before Mom even has a chance to realize I was listening. I close the door, and then I cry.
Those words became the foundation of many insecurities that plagued me as I got older. I became afraid that I would never be good enough for my friends. I feared being rejected by the people I loved. I became terrified of opening up and letting people see the real me, the dorky me that has a hard time understanding her emotions, likes to run and read, and is always thinking. I built walls around my heart to keep people out. I became afraid of love. I am terrified of love because how could anyone love me? Aren't I worthless? No one could ever think I am important. Those are thoughts that still hit me square in the face sometimes. It's dumb. I know, but hearing those words spoken so confidently from someone I loved and looked up to cut deeply into my soul.
Those words stuck with me for a really long time. Not a priority. Not important. Not worth it. Whenever I saw my grandpa after that, I strived to gain his attention. I wanted his approval. I wanted to be important. I wanted him to notice me. I tried so hard to impress him every time he came around. Then one day, I just stopped. I was tired of trying because I failed every time. I knew I wasn't getting anywhere. So I gave up. I believed his words. I thought I was worthless. I felt unimportant. I became scared that no one besides my parents would ever, could ever think of me as a priority. All because my grandpa, a man I had looked up to, said I was not worth his time.
And to make it all worse, I never told a soul. No one knew I had overheard that conversation until the summer of my eighth grade year of school. I carried that burden all alone for a very long time, but that summer, I went to my first week long church camp. One evening at that camp, we talked about mean words. The meanest words we had ever said to/about someone, and the meanest words ever said to/about us. My youth minister asked me what the meanest thing I had ever had said about me was. That was the moment I couldn't hold it in any longer. My story poured out. Next, I told my parents, and we all cried.
But it wasn't the crying and the sympathy that got to me the me most. It was the look of hope I saw on their faces. My youth minister sat me down after I was done talking to my parents. He sat across from me and looked me dead in the eyes. "You are placing your worth in the hands of you're grandpa, and that is wrong. Your worth cannot be found in the words of a man. Your worth can not be found on Earth or even in the universe for that matter. Your worth can only be found in one place." He squeezed my hand. "Your worth is found in God, the creator of the universe, the holder of the stars. That's where you find your worth. And you want to know what is so great about that?" I nodded my head and he continued, "He thinks you are worth more than gold."
It's my youth minister's words that I repeat in my head whenever I am doubting myself. I have never heard truer words, words that are true for all of us. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made" because he created us (Psalm 139:14). And not only did he just create us and throw us onto this planet, but he created us for a purpose. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.'" (Jeremiah 29:11). In God's eyes, we are valuable possessions. He chose each and every one of us, saying "You will be my people" (Jeremiah 30:22). In God's eyes, we are without a doubt worth more than gold, because we are his priceless masterpieces.
I have many more blessings than burdens. I may have dark thoughts more often than the average person, but it just kind of comes with my personality. I am a complete empath and that affects me greatly.
I am the type of person who spends the majority of her time inside her head exploring the worlds hidden within the corners of her mind, I guess you could say I am a very thought oriented person. This could be seen as a blessing or a curse. Blessing because I think about basically every aspect of everything, and it helps me to better understand things. It also helps me to better understand myself. But it is also a curse because I think about every aspect of everything. In other words, my thoughts are not always happy and joyful. I hold a vast expanse of dark things inside my pretty little head. And it is often these thoughts that plague me at unexpected moments.
"You wake up every morning to face the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love is bravery." -unknown
I do not know who wrote this quote, but I think about it often because it is so true. Bravery isn't always about doing some courageous act. It's not always facing your fears or standing strong in physical battles. Sometimes bravery is more about what your dealing with inside, your inner demons. And those inner demons can be real awful sometimes. They often give us more issues than anything else. They pull us down into a dark place where we can't always see the good in ourselves. It's scary how one little voice in our heads can whisper one little negative thing in our ear and it starts an avalanche. This quote is encouraging though. It tells us that we are brave when we face these demons. It tells us that we can overcome them. Maybe I'm reading into it to much but this quote always encourages me because it tells me I'm not alone. Everyone has wars waging in their heads. The only difference is who stands up to the demons who still puts a smile on their face, who continues into their life head held high knowing that better things are to come. That is the difference.
The sun is right behind home. It's glaring in my eyes, making my vision horrible. I can hardly see the batter, let alone the ball. Our pitcher releases the yellow globe, and I hear the smack of the bat as the ball soars into the sky. I catch a fleeting glimpse of it coming my way. I strain my eyes in search of it. I have to catch it. I have to catch it. I have to catch it. Finally I see it. Backpedaling just a little, I raise my glove. I've miss judged. It's going to land a few feet in front of me. So, I switch gears and dive. The ball lands inches from my glove. I pick it up with my hand and throw to second base. Then, with a sigh, I turn around and mumble under my breath. "Mary could have caught that," I grumble. Even my throw was awful. It landed a yard from the second basemen's feet and rolled the rest of the way.
The air is warm. My lungs seem to shrink. Warm air isn't my friend in this sport or any sport for that matter. I shake the doubt out of my head, lace up my shoes, and step onto the black surface of track. After stretching, I take a breath of my inhaler. "It's only four laps", I tell myself. Four laps of agony, my brain replies. Again I shake off the doubt that seems to enter my mind every time I step foot onto the track. They call for the milers to line up. I take my position in the third lane and walk to the finish line, glancing at the seven others walking with me. The third lane. I'm not the fastest. I'm not the slowest. I take more comfort in the last thought, but in the back of my head I know that I am just an average joe. I erase the thought. I can win this, I tell myself. There is nothing stopping me from winning. Lining the toes of my right foot up with the line, nervous jitters take over. I take a deep breath, and energy soars through my limbs. The gun goes off. I leap into a pace I hope to keep up the whole race. The first lap ends. I stride out. Second lap. My foot crosses the finish line. I push a little harder. Third lap. I'm dying. My asthma is making my life awful. Breathing is a struggle. I push a little less. Fourth lap. I'm almost done, almost there. I long for my inhaler. I'm wheezing, but I push myself to my limit anyway. My legs are numb. I can't feel them moving anymore. 100 meters left. I push past my limit. My whole body hurts. I can't feel my arms. My lungs burn. I'm not even wheezing. It's more like gasping. I cross the finish line and collapse. Fourth place. Not bad. Not great either, but I focus more on the not bad.
Every time I step onto the field or the track, I sure hold out a vast amount of hope that this time it will be different. I know I am not an exceptional player at any sport. But, I long to be. I want to be. I push myself to be. But, I am just an average joe. I'm not horrible at sports. I'm not great at them either. I am somewhere in the middle. I was not born with any special athletic talents. I am a plain jane kid who has to work hard to be good at anything sports wise. I've played sports all my life and I'm still not great.
There are some people who are just born with the talent of running fast, catching well, fielding well, pitching well, but I am not one of them and that goes for the majority of teens in the world. Grouping us all together, very few of us are exceptional at sports. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. We are not fantastic, not the best, but we are also not bad, not the worst. We are the in-betweens.
I used to get so down on myself because I was never better than the girl who could run faster than me, play center field more accurately than me until I realized something very important. It's not worth it. Besides, those kids need us average people. We push them to be better, to work harder. We are what everyone compares others too. If we weren't here, no one would be exceptional. No one would know what exceptional was, because they wouldn't have anyone to be better than. They wouldn't have anyone to compete with, to push them.
I open my mouth to talk. I manage a whole two words before someone talks over me. After giving it a couple of seconds, I gather some air and try again. Almost a whole sentence before the boy across the table joins the conversation and drowns out my voice. I sigh and glance to my right. My friend has noticed my struggle and shakes her head. "I mine as well not try," I say. "It's like they don't even hear my voice."
She laughs a little. "I don't understand how people can do that." I tilt my head a little, confused. She bites her lip before answering the question in my gaze. "How can people just talk over you. How can they just ignore you?"
I laugh a little. "Story of my life. I guess I'm just that kind of person. I fade into the background. I'm unimportant for their lives so I am not noticed by them. I'm like a shadow. But that's ok."
Rolling her eyes, she says, "I don't think it's ok. It bothers me. The world is missing out on such a great person. No one even gives you a chance. It makes me angry."
I smile and look down. "It makes you angry?" She nods. "It bothers me sometimes. I mean it's not fun never being noticed by people or talking when you know that no one is really listening. I think we all want to be noticed and it kinda hurts when we're not. So it does bother me sometimes, but at the same time it's just been life for so long that I've gotten used to it. Sometimes I actually enjoy it. I don't have to spend so much time socializing and using so much energy. I can be an introvert in public, and that's nice sometimes. But, you know..."
She nods again. "Yeah, I..."
"What are you guys talking about?" the boy who interrupted me earlier asks.
This was a real conversation that I had with one of my friends. This happens to me all of the time. I am not a very noticed person. Not all teens go unnoticed, but many of us do. We are the outcasts, the people who aren't popular. The kids who maybe don't fit perfectly into a clique. Those of us who don't really fit in high school. We are the floaters, the weirdos, the losers. We are the teens who just fade into the background, the shadows.
And like I had said in my story. It does hurt sometimes. I mean, I want to be noticed, just a little like the next person. It makes me sad sometimes because every once in a while I find my thoughts leaning towards things like, "If they would just look at me... If they would just listen to what I have to say... If they would just...". It makes me long to be around people who do give me the time of day, who do listen to me, who do acknowledge my presence. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks about things like this or who struggles with going unnoticed. I know there are more teens out there with the same problem. I've met some of them. We all want the same thing. We all want to be seen. It make us feel valued.
"Anyone can show up when you're happy. But the ones who stay by your side when your heart falls apart, they are your true friends."
I am Samantha, and my goal for this blog is to basically share my experiences as a teenager. Basically, I am a teen. I have many hopes and dreams, many fears and insecurities that I let hold me back. There is so much that goes on in my life. Sometimes it is a struggle, and that is what this blog is about.