My wife, Debbie, was asked by a close family friend to share some thoughts with their daughter Abby as she turned 13. Here is her counsel. Good words for us all at any age!
13 things I wish I had known at 13...
1. Life is not meant to revolve around me!
2. Don't expect your friends or family to be perfect. They are sinful creatures just as you are and are going to hurt you some time(s).
3. God will never hurt you or abandon you. When it feels like He has it is because you have turned from Him. Just turn around!
4. Forgiveness is an act of the will and the path to freedom and peace. Make it a habit!
5. A very wise man once told me that "God's men (women) bounce." So, when you are knocked down, get up and purpose to keep going by doing the right thing.
6. Do not be afraid of hardship. God is right there asking you to put your hand in His and let Him lead you through it. He uses hardship in our life to perfect us into His character. He loves us too much to leave us in our imperfect state!
7. Sometimes our difficulties are simply a result of our own sin or bad choices. Don't blame God for the hardship. Take responsibility, confess any sin or blame, and keep moving forward with His guidance.
8. "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." This kind of friend is rare. Choose your friends wisely and cautiously. People often look great, even wonderful, on the outside, or at first blush. But when you get to know them they are not the kind of friend you need. Love them but be cautious in opening yourself up to them. The Bible talks about Jesus doing this very thing..."Jesus entrusted himself to no man because he knew what was in the heart of man." We, as finite beings, need to get to know a person well before we can entrust ourselves to them.
9. Don't get caught up in focusing on outward appearance. When people see you they notice what you are wearing or how you look just briefly. Then, after they begin to be enfolded in your care and love, they forget all about the outward appearance. All of us need acceptance and love.
10. Laughter is soothing to the soul. Laugh with your family! The memories are priceless and will bless your entire life.
11. Stay close to your brother and sister. Forgive their faults against you immediately. Friends will fail you. God has given you these specific siblings for your good, and theirs. If you maintain a close relationship with them you will be blessed your lifetime through
12. Begin now to make it a habit to be in the Word, even if it is just a verse, every day. You will be amazed how God uses the Holy Spirit to remind you of His guidance when facing challenges during your daily routine.
13. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! God is your Father. Just like your earthly mother and father want to hear about your day, about your thoughts, about your concerns, about your struggles, so does your Heavenly Father. He wants you to walk with Him, your hand in His. He wants to hold you in His lap while you share, while you cry, while you laugh. Learn to tell Him everything! Simply talk to Him quietly throughout the day. That not only blesses you but it blesses Him.
Abby, I am so blessed to know you and your family. I pray your 13th birthday is filled with love, joy and TONS of fun. May God richly bless you as you enter this new season of life! I would LOVE to see you all in the near future!