Most, if not all, of my spiritual growth posts are self-reflective (meaning for myself mostly to contemplate). This is not one of those posts. Although it fits right in line with what God’s been showing me lately as far as Staying Focus, I have no doubt that someone else out there needs to hear these words.
“ Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (NLT)
I recently was told last week by an older, female friend and mentor whom I’ve known for years now, that there’s something about me that can sometimes convict a person. Something about me… the way I act, what I do or say (or write here on the blog), that sets them off, and they usually react badly to it because conviction hurts. Seeing me (or having my life or actions displayed in front of them) hurts. This older friend with much more life experience than me (in her 40’s) told me that there’s nothing I can do about this. If I’m living an obviously good life, trying my best in everything because it gives me joy, being a great mom to my kids, treating my husband wonderful and enjoying an above average marriage with him for 8 years, losing the baby weight within 2 weeks because I exercise and take care of my body, and writing articles that are appreciated by many people online on how to be a good wife to your husband, then there’s nothing I can do to help the certain set of people who will look at these things in real life or online, and feel conviction that makes them uncomfortable or even upset in how they are choosing to live their own lives differently. All these things are positive choices I make in my life everyday, but the unfortunate thing is that they can bring to light other people’s bad choices they are making, taking away their justification for those things and making them feel convicted.
To be bothered at all by any of this, is traveling down one of those roads that leads off of your purpose. When you start to take that exit, going down that road, you’re taking your eyes off of what God wants you to stay focused on – His Will for your life, His purpose.
If you are young and reading this blog on marriage, spiritual growth, and anti-feminism, you are more than likely doing many things right in your life, and have been for quite some time, and yet you still may get looked down upon because you are young.
If you are a generation Y’er… I am 100% sure you understand what this feels like. We are termed “The Generation Everyone Loves to Hate.”
It used to be very strange and even emotionally upsetting to me, to find that things I learned and implemented in my marriage at the age of 20, when we literally first got married, were things that people in their 40’s didn’t even understand. The emotionally upsetting part was being looked down upon by those people who are older, and yet have problems in their marriage that we’ve never had because we were wiser and avoided those pitfalls. To be at a further stage in maturity and marital growth than couples who had been married as long as we’d been alive, was disturbing and emotionally upsetting. But to be looked down upon by those people, or discounted, was frustrating or even infuriating.
I once even had an older woman come right out and tell me that even though what I was saying was exactly correct advice for her marriage, that because she was offended at my ability to understand or know it, that she was rejecting it. Someone that was my age (22) at the time, shouldn’t have been able to advise her correctly on her issues when she was in her 40’s, and when I did, it made her extremely angry. And to think, she had actually come to me asking for my advice!
Things like this used to bother me. It hurt to have my wisdom or knowledge almost be “despised” because of my youth. Like because I was so young, that my knowledge didn’t matter or even count for anything.
Why did it bother me so much back then? Because I allowed it to. The feelings of being discounted because of my youth, because we looked like babies (well, we still do…), got the best of me, and I strayed off course into a pity party of complaining to God about feeling so misjudged or misunderstood.
It’s not your job to make everyone understand or “get” you.
You may be young, but living life trying to do the best and right thing, and be ahead of many of your peers, but there will always be people who will try to define you, and completely get you wrong.
This was a lesson that took me a long time to learn. Being someone who loved people, and wanted to have unity and peace, I constantly sought for understanding, even when someone was resistant to it like a duck is to water. Sometimes, understanding or peace never came, only God can soften hearts that have been hardened. The Bible talks about prophets shaking off the dust from their feet when they were rejected in certain towns. Likewise, you must shake off the dust from your feet when you have tried to achieve understanding or unity with someone who is resistant to it. The prophets were prescribed this practice of shaking off the dust from the place of rejection because it literally represented shaking off the emotional entanglements of that frustration so that they could then refocus on their next journey, their next town that God would send them to.
Shaking off the “dust” or frustration of being rejected or misunderstood is critical to being able to Stay Focus.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always had the desire in my heart to seek out wisdom. When I was only a little girl, I would pray for God to give me wisdom, and by the time I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I was regularly the one my friends would come to for advice, especially on relationships. God gave me a spirit that is teachable, a spirit that wants to learn. It is also a tenderhearted spirit, that has often been too naive in trusting others or believing they have good intentions because they call themselves Christian.
Even though God’s blessed me in this area of my life, I have felt the sting of having been judged and looked down upon by people twice my age, who didn’t have as great a marriage as I have had, who, to be honest, didn’t even understand many things about marriage or healthy maturity that I actually understood at that time. So when Paul wrote to Timothy, not to allow anyone to look down upon him just because he was young, I get it. It’s part of Timothy’s journey to stay focus and not be distracted by the pain of being judged by ignorant, older Christians who want to define or limit Timothy, his ability, and his life. There will always be people who will want to define you and your life, even though they will get it wrong. Trying to explain yourself or explain the plans God has for you to people who are defining you wrong, is futile. They should not be defining you, period. God is the one who is marking out your path, He is the One who helps you stay on course. Dialoging with people who want to define you wrongly, or put limits around what God is doing in your life or will do in the future, is straying off course, and is taking attention away from what you should be focusing on concerning your purpose.
Why did Paul feel he needed to write this passage to Timothy?
Because people who are older have a tendency to look down on people who are younger. They want to feel as though they know or understand more, and if they see that a younger person knows or understands more than them, they may not have the humility to admit it.
It comes natural for the older Christians to prejudge the younger ones, to think they don’t know as much as they know about marriage or life. To have misconceptions about them and their life experience. To think that they can’t know or understand what they actually do know or understand. It can be simple ignorance in not understanding (or even knowing) the young person they’re communicating with, or it can be a very nasty sin and situation of looking down on others in pride and ambition. Whether it’s done out of ignorance or out of pride, it can be dangerous to the younger people as it usually hurts them to some degree.
They may feel like their opinion, even if it is wise, doesn’t matter. Or that their own personal life experience, even though they have overcome great challenges and learned secrets of success in a variety of trials, is completely disregarded because of their age.
Let me tell you, young person who may be reading this: Your opinion does matter. Your experience matters. Your wisdom that God has given you by grace, matters – it matters greatly! You need to share it. If He’s put these words in your heart and given you all this knowledge in your head… you have a responsibility to share it.
Because You Are Young, You Are God’s Weapon
God uses the simple and the young, to shame the complicated and old. He uses what looks to be foolish, to shame what should be the wise. You… are His chosen weapon. You… in all your youth and lack of age or life experience, have the ability, the God-gifted ability, to shame someone twice your age with the beauty of the knowledge and wisdom that He has blessed you with.
Don’t hold it back.
And don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.