“Just remember: God had a plan for our life long before anyone had an opinion.”
My daughter repeated these words while sharing a conversation with one of her close friends. She talked about certain struggles when this wise friend encouraged her with these life-giving words.
I could not believe my ears. The wisdom came from a 13-year-old boy. And even though he may have heard it from an adult, it blessed me beyond measure to know that my girl is surrounded by children who understand and share such deep truths.
That’s not the norm these days.
As a mother of two teenagers, I have been astounded by how many of their friends struggle with anxiety or depression. My oldest daughter recently shared about how, during a high school retreat, several friends confessed to having battled suicidal thoughts.
I thought this was supposed to be the “best time of their lives,” as the song goes.
To many teens, not so much.
According to a 2017 research from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), major depression is the most common mental disorder in the United States. An estimated 17.3 million American adults had at least one major depressive episode that year. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults. And among teens, the stats are as disheartening: An estimated 3.2 million adolescents age 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 13.3% of the U.S. population age 12 to 17.
The information is indeed alarming … and truly disheartening. It reinforced my belief in the importance of parent involvement, particularly during the teenage years, when hormones are flaring while social media redefines morality, picture-perfect models tell our girls that they will never measure up, and cyber-bullying threatens our children’s confidence and joy. Parents who are not involved in frequent conversations with their teens may quickly realize that the small screen they stare at all day is often robbing our children’s joy.
One of my most-repeated sentences to my girls is this: “God has a purpose for your life, and it is awesome!”
I don’t repeat it as a mantra, hoping that if they hear it enough, they will believe it. I repeat it because I know it is true … and I wish someone had shared this truth with me when I was younger.
When meditating upon God’s involvement with the intrinsic details of his life, King David wrote one of the most repeated Psalms in Scriptures — Psalm 139 — where one finds these words:
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
The psalm addresses God, or, in Jewish tradition, YHWH, where David establishes his understanding of what he knows God to be. He goes on to marvel at the omnipresence of God even in the most secret of places, and praise him for his vast knowledge of the future.
Scholars have concluded that this psalm was written after David finally sat on the throne of Israel, after having survived King Saul’s persecution and the betrayal of his own son, Absalom. David had been anointed king of Israel when he was just a teenager, but did not see the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophecy until almost 15 years later.
While meditating upon the twists and turns of his life, the uncertainty and pain he endured while waiting, David declared God’s faithfulness and commitment to fulfill his ultimate plan.
In this psalm, King David reminds us that even when life does not make sense, and even if everyone seems to come against us, we can trust God’s plan.
What a wonderful thought! This concept is in the heart of what my daughter’s young friend said – an idea which must rule over our hearts, every time the pressures of this world threaten to steal our identity and peace:
People will always have an opinion on how we should behave, think … or look. When they voice it, remind your heart that God knew exactly what he was doing when he crafted you. His plan for you preceded anyone’s opinion.
Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger and international speaker. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com