Living For Something More
Sometimes it’s misleadingly easy to read and write these posts, safe in the More Precious bubble. Surrounded by a sphere of subscribers, followers and encouraging comments it's easy to forget about the people who find the posts ridiculous, who find Christianity outdated and irrelevant; I forget that living for Jesus is hard and uncomfortable a lot of the time.
What I dreamt for this blog was that it could be a place where God was honoured, stories could be shared, and we as girls would be encouraged to live with Him as our King in everything we do. Little by little, God has used the site to do just that – and some of the messages we get sharing stories are incredible. So many of these messages have included questions about how we can manage to live as a Christians in the face of peer pressures at school, at college or beyond. This struggle isn't shared by everyone, and my post won't cover all bases - but it's something that I've found hugely difficult, have thought about lots and would like to explore in my little contribution to our Summer Series.
"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life: your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." (Romans 12:1-2)
As Christian girls, not only do we have to navigate the complex, messy world of teenage girlhood – but we also have to make tough choices as we try to love God and honour Him with our lives. These years of growing up are hard: how do we know what decisions are right? What kind of person will we grow into? What do we want to do, be, say and achieve? How can we fit God into any of this?
When I was at school, I didn’t really know many girls who had continued living for Jesus past their early teenage years. I had great role-models in my life, but they mostly seemed to be older and at a different stage of life, and didn’t always understand the agonising balance of trying to fit in at school while not compromising on my Christian values.
As time went on, this balance became harder and harder, and I start to think that perhaps Christianity was outdated and irrelevant. It was easy enough to go through the motions on Sundays at church, but it felt frustrating and embarrassing to be a Christian the rest of the time. I found myself questioning: if God really was omnipotent, where was He at school? Where was He at parties? Where was He when I had to keep saying no to drinks, no to boys, no to using fake IDs, no to all the things that everyone else was doing as an unquestionable part of growing up.
I struggled. Deep down I loved God and I knew what Jesus had done for me; but I desperately wanted to stay popular and keep up with my friends. The keeping of rules that I didn’t understand gradually wore me down, and God seemed further and further away.
I'm grateful to God that I’ve learnt a lot of things since then that have made me realise how good He is and how He really does want the best for our lives. Most importantly, I've realised that Jesus died for me so that I am able to have a relationship with God, NOT so that I must remain bound by a rule-orientated religion. I want you to know this for yourself too.
This post won't be a step-by-step guide on How To Remain Funny, Beautiful, Popular and Godly. (If you find one, let me know. My highest score remains a rare 1/4) – but I’m going to leave you with a few lessons that I've learnt over the past few years that I'd love to share – hopefully they will encourage you to keep pursuing God even when it feels tough.
1. Don't base your life on rules, base it on LOVE.
We are saved by grace and not by what we do. This is huge. My halfhearted attempts to ‘stay Christian’ by doing the right things left me confused as to why I had to keep rules without believing that they were good or worthwhile. Yet once I realised that I could have real, living relationship with God – the idea of ‘rules’ was replaced with a desire to live wholeheartedly for God. This became a joy and a freedom. For if we trust God, we must trust His best for us.
Being a Christian girl isn’t about ticking boxes or jumping through hoops to please a strict, judging, fun-spoiling God. Life with God is so much more than ‘not getting drunk’ or ‘no sex before marriage’. These are tiny parts of God’s big, big plan for our lives, and our decisions must be based on a genuine, love-fuelled desire to please our Father and trust that His way for us is best - not on how far we can go in our own direction, before winding up guilty and despairing.
Don’t run on empty: don’t become burdened by rules and religion. Refocus your gaze on the One who knows you better than you know yourself; learn to love Him, and you will want to live for Him.
2. Don't be scared of being different.
Give up your dreams of blending in – as Christian girls we are called to be different and radical. Remember Romans 12:1? Don't become so well adjust to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
To me at school, fitting in sounded ideal! I wanted to fit in, to be accepted, popular and liked by everyone – but actually, I don’t think Jesus was primarily out to be any of these things. He wasn’t cool or popular in the world’s terms – yet He lived the greatest, kindest, most radical and attractive life in history. I used to think it would be perfect if I could just fit in comfortably – and I was doing a great job if people didn’t even notice that I was a Christian. Reality is, Jesus wants in on every part of our lives: He wants us to be like Him – He wants us to be different; and while this can be scary at times, if we trust in God, He will provide, and we will never be let down.
3. Don’t let peer pressure cause you think that God spoils your fun.
Like a Father with His children, God wants the best for us – even if we are too young, inexperienced or stubborn to see what that ‘best’ really looks like. Even when we can’t see why God would have us say no to certain things, we trust that He is sovereign and He knows best in all situations. He wants to grow us, challenge us, shape us into the people we were made to be. He wants us to have rich lives, vibrant relationships, creative minds and a balanced view of ourselves. He gives life to the full, as we're pointed to in Romans 12:2: "Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings out the best in you."
4. Don’t be afraid to live for something more.
Saying ‘no’ to things and upholding your beliefs isn’t a sign of being uncool or uptight… instead it shows that you are living for something BIGGER than the world. At school, doing things with guys or doing crazy things while drunk was a way to show that you were outgoing, fun or confident enough to take opportunities and be adventurous. As I've got a little older, I've notice that people tend to realise fairly soon that everyone can take these opportunities if they wanted to - and in fact, it is the people who don’t take them that gain the most respect. This is because you show that you are looking beyond the temporary and are focusing on what is constant and true. So: don’t be tempted to drop your standards in order to boost your reputation - Jesus saved us and we are designed to live with him: this is worth so much more.
5. Don’t think that it’s all about you.
Let’s return back to where we started in Romans 12 – a call for us to fix our attention on God, where we will be changed from the inside out. We aren't changed outside-in, by our attempts to please God by doing good. The great news for us is that in our weakness, God is STRONG. He will change our hearts and give us the strength to live for Him even when nobody else seems to be. This is freeing and massively encouraging for me, amidst my many, many daily mistakes and distractions. I hope it’s encouraging for you too, as you keep pursuing God in all areas of your life.
I want to end by asking you to read over the opening verses of this post, taken from Romans 12:1-2. I also want to introduce you to the MSG version of Romans 12:3 (below), where we’re reminded of how big God is and how little we have to offer Him – no matter how ‘good’ we think we might be. Let the truths in these two passages sink into your heart as you remember that God is in control, and that we are understood by what He has done. How incredible it is that Jesus died so we could have real, life-giving, love-filling relationship with our Father:
I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
Lucy ~ @lucybeauchamp
I'm Lucy and I'm just coming to the end of my second year at Durham University. I love my hometown Cambridge and I also love living in the beautiful little city of Durham, where the coffee shops are plentiful and the people are GREAT!
Running More Precious is one of my favourite things and it's the biggest source of encouragement for me! Like I said in my bio, I'm still learning how to live out a little of the thankfulness of Pollyanna, the kindness of Katy Carr and the faith of the Proverbs 31:25 girl - perhaps one day I'll get there!
NB: This post only skims the surface of this issue, I know - and definitely misses out lots of wise and helpful advice. We are hoping to explore this topic in more detail over the next few months on the blog - so do keep checking back for updates, or feel free to send in your own stories or pieces of advice to [email protected] - I'd love to hear from you!