To my dear friend whom I’ve never met but whom I know so well:
Your life right now as a young person is anguish, yes? Maybe you are bullied or depressed or abused or addicted or caught up in a shame spiral that keeps pirouetting and shows no signs of slowing down. There is no exit from this ride. Today blends into tomorrow and on and on the days and nights blur and you push through in autopilot, three turns to the right, two turns to the left, over and over and over, you wait for the click on your combination lock. What’s in that locker you’ve got packed so full and so well? Is it a relationship you can’t get over, even though you know it wasn’t for your benefit? Is it tension at home that won’t evaporate? Is it a looming decision that seems to eclipse all the other things that are meant to bring you joy? Is it the sense of belonging that everyone else seems to have but for you, it’s always fleeting, always vanishing like sand held in your hand? Is it all of this and so much more, and you just can’t take any more tomorrows if they are like today? The heaviness, the sourness, the emptiness, the pain.
My friend, I see you. I feel all that. I have felt all of that.
I want you to know that I’m sorry. This is a hard season of life for you and I am sorry for all the crap you have to navigate. A show* that I loved, one that was only around for one season (adding injury to insult over the anguish of being young) had a main character who said, “When your parents ask you how was school, it’s like they’re asking you how was the drive-by shooting?” Just existing in this hard season is subjecting yourself to all manner of assaults and offenses you don’t expect. You are subjected to the drive-by, maybe multiple times a day.
The real drive-by is not the pain that people or situations in our lives cause, though. Rather, it’s the lies we choose to believe. And that’s where I want to tell you not to buy the lie. This is your greatest weapon in the battle.
So much of the counsel we give young people points your focus in the wrong direction. We tell you how bad the bullies must feel about themselves to have to prey on someone like you. We tell you not to get involved, not to feel so sorry for yourself–think of all the kids who would kill to have what you have. That still doesn’t advance your game piece very far, though, does it?
If you were really involved in a battle, you wouldn’t spend all your time looking to the opposition, studying their weapons, memorizing their tactics, predicting how they will plot their course and none of the time training yourself, right? You would build up the muscle and agility to fight back, or perhaps strategize a plan that would circumnavigate the enemy all together.
I don’t know much about fighting, but I do know about enemies. I know about the enemy that lies to our minds and hearts about who we are and what we’re worth. I know about an enemy that used to push me onto a hamster wheel of busy, keeping so busy all the time with two jobs and a full load of high school classes and leadership in all the clubs and a saint-load of community service. The busyness became my identity. I was The Busy Girl, so talented with all the flaming torches I was juggling, the one relied upon, the one who had no time to reflect or eat or be anything but kind and dependable on the outside, whereas on the inside I was a decaying sack of depression, anxiety, and serious feels that I could never be enough–not for my parents or teachers or people I called friend–not even for God. I had bought the lie that I was not enough and needed to work to be valuable.
The good news, friend, is that just because you bought the lie, you don’t have to keep it. However, you will have to fight to return it. And the fight will make you stronger for future battles. The enemies that lie about who we are and what we’re worth never go away. Seasons will pass and life will not get easier. It will increase in depth and complexity. But training yourself to spot the lies will better equip you for the battles ahead.
For most of us, friend, training ourselves to refuse to buy the lies starts small. You are going to just want to put on that brand new life of Not Buying Lies and to coast freely down the hill where all the other rah-rahs are in a huddle cheering for everyone UP WITH TRUTH! DOWN WITH LIES! The reality is that sometimes you are going to have to strive to wake up and pledge to not buy any lies about your worth today. Or maybe to pledge not to buy any lies for just the next hour. Or next minute. Or next fourteen seconds. It might sound like this:
I am part of an amazing creation. I am made for more than this. I am loved. I refuse to believe anything to the contrary. For the next four seconds. Amen.
Or your fight might look like a Napoleonic side-eye. Get thee behind me, lies.
Or a MCG power stance. No lies here. Only Superstars.
Or a Drakeoneon dance. That can only mean one thing.
I wish I could tell you, friend, that you could perfect your stance or just Drake dance through life and lies will have no more power over you, but the lies continue. Sometimes they slip them in our coffee or sometimes enemies visit us just before we’re catching sleep. When the lies stack up and seem to hop into our shopping cart, remember that you are not alone. You are never alone. Call on your friend, call on your Higher Power to get in your corner and speak truth back into your life. I did this just the other day. I was simply not strong enough on my own two legs so I had a friend pray me out of a hard place. Enemy lies are strong but truth and love are stronger.
Young friend, I so wish for you a more peaceful season. I hope in the meantime that you grow strong and brave on the battlefield. I pray that you may stay strong and brave for the next day, the next hour, the next fourteen seconds.