Faith Identity

Letters to Younger Me- Age 13

MW Editor’s Note:  From time to time, we post a series of letters that older you might have written to younger you. Letters that help bring perspective and hope for the future. Perhaps some of these letters resonate with you. Perhaps, some of these letters might help you work through some growing-up experiences that have shaped the man you are becoming or should become. 

Dear Younger Me.

Wahoo! You’re officially a teenager! A whole new chapter of your life is unfolding. Boyhood is in the past and it’s now the early stages of manhood. In 1 Corinthians 13, it talks about when you were a child you would think and act like a child. But when you became a man you put away childish things and took on the quality and character of a man. It all doesn’t happen overnight. Somedays you’ll still act like a boy, other days more manly. It’s all part of the God-ordained transition every guy takes. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t play with your Hot Wheels cars and track, but it does mean taking interest in more grown-up things. So, as you do life, it’s okay to try a new sport, meet new people, ride your bike further from home than you have before, start earning money. I heard grandpa is getting you a used mower so you can start mowing lawns in the neighborhood.  I recall you pulling that mower up the street. Thirteen lawns. You were busy! I know you’ll do a great job mowing. You seem to be diligent and responsible. 

Middle School

Let’s talk. That neighbor boy down the street who’s a year older than you. He’s been telling you tall tales about middle school. Scaring you so that you lose sleep. I know you hate gym class. All those guys in the locker room. It’s so awkward. No privacy!  I get it! Some of them who act like bullies are doing so because they are immensely insecure. In fact, that’s why your neighbor boy tries to freak you out about school.  I want you to know that if you allow the Lord to take your concerns about school, He will meet you there and you won’t feel as anxious.

Peer Choices

I’ve sensed in you tension as to which circle of friends to run around with. The edgy seventh graders who talk dirty about girls, use profanity and pass around cigarettes behind the school. Something about them appeals to you. Then, there’s the other group of guys; nerdy, still wearing grade school clothes with little boy haircuts. They are okay guys, just nothing daring about them. No adventure and I think that is what you are looking for. 

You feel caught in the middle. I know some good Christian guys at school. It’s hard to find them, but to be honest, you have been hiding your faith in Jesus. Almost as if you are embarrassed by Him. Dude, I have to shoot straight with you. One of the reasons you are split as to which crowd to run with is because you are fence-riding with Jesus. You want just enough of Him to get to heaven, but you aren’t interested in letting Him have your everyday life. Choosing Jesus first will help resolve this friendship issue.

Hidden Stash

Let’s talk about what you found recently; a hidden stash of porn magazines. Flipping through them sent you into a tailspin. All those naked girl photos triggered strange and awkward feelings in you. You couldn’t erase those images from your mind, Even though your awakening sexual desires and body changes are normal, the issue is temptation takes what is good and abuses it. In this case, it’s called lust. Lust is causing you to misunderstand and misuse sex. 

Those guys at school who seem edgy and cool. You might not be aware of this, but they are porn users. They are struggling with purity and it’s coming out in how they talk and treat girls. This is another reason why there’s a big connection between your faith and how you relate to girls. 

Since I’m you in the future, I can tell you that all those secret looks at the “stash” have messed with my mind.  It took some time and intentional accountability, but God broke the porn habit. I’m grateful for that, but I’m still going to challenge you at 13, to stop looking. Give those new feelings you have to God and He will provide a way of escape from every temptation.

Realigned Thinking

Recently, I went through a season where I was supernaturally confronted by God about some long-term lies I’ve believed about myself. What I realize now is at 13, you were facing those same lies and it’s why you struggled as you did.  Some of those lies were: 

  • You are in the way, an inconvenience. 
  • You can’t do anything right. 
  • You are not worth knowing

Dude, they are NOT true about you. I can understand why you’d think they are, because of how some adults treat you, but the reality is: 

  • You are NOT in the way. 
  • You are not a burden. 
  • You are worth knowing.

Remember those two underlying questions I mentioned before; that deep inside, at 13, you are asking two core questions about yourself.  

1. Does anyone delight in me?

2. Do I have what it takes to be a man?

The answers are solidly YES!  I delight in you! I believe in you!

Figuring out who you are 

It’s all part of the journey towards manhood. You have the freedom to test your abilities, lift weights and expand your social skills. You aren’t crossing any moral lines if you decide to grow longer hair or wear a chain around your neck. Reality is, man, God loves you. He wants your heart and although last year you made a MAJOR faith choice to trust in Jesus, you are still scared to let Him in.

When you feel isolated, confused, awkward, or that urge to look at porn again, reach out to me. I’m here. Not to condemn you, but to listen and to help you see that God is 110% for you.

How about we ride bikes this weekend?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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