I must confess that the thought of having a teenaged daughter always scared the living daylights out of me. I’m pretty convinced I know why. You see, I was the world’s worst teen girl! I was disrespectful to my parents and teachers, rebellious at every opportunity, angry and impulsive, not to mention deeply disturbed and depressed. I had never heard the Gospel, let alone believed in it, and my sinful nature revealed itself loudly and clearly in any way it so desired.
I temporarily moved out of home when I was 15. I was lost, broken, and hurt. I didn’t want to live. There was no way out, or so I thought. Years into my teenage years, God graciously saved my soul and put a new song in my heart! I was redeemed. Rescued. Given Life. It took a while to get out of my bad habits, suicidal tendencies, to stop throwing temper tantrums, and for my foul language to disappear, but slowly and very surely, the God who had known me all along and who had heard my desperate cry for help, changed me forever!
Now having a teenage daughter of my own, I clearly recognise struggles and hardships that she faces. However, there is a magnificent difference between myself at age 14, and my daughter, Aviel at age 14.
And that is that she knows God!!! (Her name means My Father is God in Hebrew)
She has grown up reading His Word, bathed in principles of righteous living, and not exposed to the evil and filth of this world to a large degree. And while she still wrestles daily with overcoming her fleshly desires and inclinations, as we all do, she has the Lord to lean on, run to, and in whom she can trust.What makes a teen's life different is a saving faith in and healthy fear of God. Click To Tweet
He transforms hormonal days into hope filled opportunities, the propensity of self-centredness into Saviour-glorifying moments, and urges to rebel into reasons to please God.
I’d say one of the greatest differences between Aviel and I at the same age, is the mother/daughter relationship. When I was fourteen years old, I’m ashamed to say, I absolutely hated my mother with a passion. She could do nothing right in my eyes, and I grew to loathe her 🙁 . How sad I am to pen these words…
I love what Charles Dickens wrote:
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
Thankfully, by the grace of the Lord, Aviel and I have the most amazing friendship. It truly is the hand of a merciful God to not return to me what I justly deserve – being treated by my own daughter in the same despicable way I treated my mother during those years. God is gracious, indeed.
There have been many influences and influencers that have led to my daughter’s teen years being not only less tumultuous, but even God glorifying. The Bible is of course the greatest, while others range from godly people whom He has placed in her life to books she has read, and many things in between.
One of the most life-changing focuses came when my daughter read a book titled, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations.
I will let her share her testimony of how this book affected her here (It was also published on The Rebelution website, run by the authors of Do Hard Things.) Besides God’s Word, I truly believe that this is the one book every teenager should read.
You can also read of Aviel’s passion on her blog Calling Teen Girls.
I pray that her honest account will be a blessing to you.
How Do Hard Things has impacted my life
Ever since I was eight years old, I had one thing that I pledged to myself never to become. I would never be a typical teenager.
I hated the rebellion, selfishness, and foolishness that I saw in the older teenagers around me. I wanted to look up to them as examples of what I should one day become, and they disappointed me. All I saw in them was worldliness.
At the age of twelve, I was beginning to see just how hard it was not to be a “teenager” when all my friends and the world around me encouraged me to live up (or rather, down!) to low expectations. It was very tempting to just give in to what our culture would consider normal, and not make an effort to do anything I didn’t have to do. Several times I didn’t do something whole-heartedly and was surprised when even my parents considered it completely normal.
I was only twelve, and yet I felt as though I was already expected to meet the world’s low standards. I was dead set against it, and was continually trying, but failing, to defy the low expectations all around me. I felt like I was all alone fighting low standards.
Then, the dreaded day of my birthday arrived and I turned thirteen. I was shocked when people automatically labeled me as a ‘teenager’ the moment they heard my age. People would immediately expect me to behave, talk and look a certain way.
I was frustrated.
It seemed as though I was the only teenager in the world trying to exceed low expectations; to work hard at my studies dress modestly, and behave maturely. It was hard. I didn’t have many friends at all. I wasn’t popular because I wasn’t like other teenagers. It was then that I was at the point of giving up on making an effort to stand out.
Then, one of my few friends, an eighteen year old girl, recommended your book, “Do Hard Things,” to me. She sent me the link to your website. I was in a hurry at the time, so forwarded it to my mother to ask her if I could get the book. I completely forgot about it, but after a couple of weeks, my mother said that the library got the book I sent her, “Do Hard Things.” I had no idea what she was talking about, but apparently she had put in a suggestion that our local library should get it.
My life transformed the day I walked out of the library, a copy of the book “Do Hard Things” under my arm, and read the first chapter. I couldn’t believe that there were millions of other teenagers out there doing exactly what I was so desperately trying to do! I immediately went on to the computer and joined the Rebelution.
I didn’t change immediately in very great ways, but I started – one step at a time.
First, I started with reading my Bible and praying every day. I had been very inconsistent with it, and sometimes a busy week or two would go by without me having touched my Bible. I knew that I needed to change that. I needed God in order to one day become a great and Godly teenager – to set an example to all the believers.
Secondly, I started working harder at my schoolwork. I had been consistently getting sick for the previous six months, so hadn’t managed to do as much as I would have liked to. After starting to read the book, I began making an effort to work hard at it and do my very best.
Thirdly, I worked on being more respectful and obedient to my parents. One of the most common attitudes about teenagers that I wanted to defy was rebellion. It was very hard. It may have been the hardest thing that I had to change so far. I was very tempted on many occasions to rebel against my parents’ authority. A few times I did, but later regretted it. I wanted with all my being to fight against low expectations and against the world’s view of teenagers. God has really been helping me in this area, even though it is hard.
I love the way Do Hard Things encourages those that do small, hard things to keep at it, because God sees and notices these little efforts, even if your friends and family don’t. There are other ways that I am working on doing small, hard things. Even if they haven’t affected anyone else much, they have affected my life greatly. I want to later do big hard things that will prove to our culture exactly what teenagers can do if the world wouldn’t have such low expectations of them!
I have not done very great things, and I am far from the perfect teenager, but I am constantly relying on God to help me swim against the current and rebel against low expectations. It is hard, but so worth it!
Bless your teen with a copy of
Do you have a teenager who is struggling? What helpful tips and/or resources could you offer other parents that would help?