6 Regrets From a Former Life Teen Teenager

“So Julie, other than Life Teen, what are your hobbies?”

Other hobbies?

In high school, I was that Life Teen kid. Every blog, I read it. Every video, I watched it. Every t-shirt, I had it.  Every worship night, I praised it. Every event, Six Flag’s Inspiration, retreats, summer camps, leadership conferences, I was there. You get the idea.

But looking back I had a couple of big regrets that maybe you can learn from.

I regret…

…looking for my future bae

Julie,  I know, they’re a lot of cute Catholic people here and a long-distance relationship from California to New Jersey sounds oh-so romantic. But you’re here to seek Christ and fall in love with Him not them.

But, let’s get real. I was objectifying them. Not like, “Dang yo body is an object,” but looking at each person in youth group or a retreat I was on to be used for my romantic desires is objectification. If I’m looking at each guy and only seeing them as potential boyfriends/spouses, I’m looking at them as an object to be obtained by me. If I’m only interested until they tell me they’re in a relationship or I find that I’m not attracted to them, then I’m not looking at them as wholly as they are but something to be used. Instead I wish I had pursued more Christ-centered friendship with them that’s not contingent on whether or not they’re datable or what they can offer me.

Stop writing your own story and imagining things that are not in tune with reality- especially in youth group settings and retreats. It’s distracting to you and probably everyone around you. Control your heart.

…being so cliquey

I wasn’t doing this intentionally. I didn’t get all Mean Girls on them. You know, I just loved my friends. We had our inside jokes. We all experienced the same retreat last year. It was who I actually wanted to spend my time with.

But I wished I looked into the perspective of the person who doesn’t have a friend group. Honestly to feel like you had no close friends a room of a bunch of people would feel terrible and isolating. I saw too many people come in and out of Life Teen because they didn’t feel included. I now realized the gravity of this. By me not reaching out, I could have been prevented them from encountering Christ.

Besides, shouldn’t this be the one place in the world where everyone can feel like they belong?

…bragging about what God has done

God was doing some radical and divine things in my life. Of course I wanted to talk about it, and it was even encouraged. But sometimes my encounters with Christ was meant to stay between me and Him. I realized this on a retreat when we had small group time to talk about our adoration experiences.

I just felt Christ in a way I never had before. Core members, were in awe and so happy for me. But I realized the other teens started to become discouraged. I remember teens who kept asking, “Why didn’t God do that in my life?” or “I still haven’t had my IT moment.” And I wish someone told them, God doesn’t work in “big moments.” God is doing what He needs to do for you right now and it’s not good to compare. But I also wish I recognized it’s difficult for someone understand and believe that.

Your story should be told, but there’s a way to do that without bragging. Discern your intentions and ask God if your story is going to help others grow closer to Christ or just start a comparing game. You don’t need your story to be told in order for it to be validated. If anything, just talk to your youth minister about it.

… not inviting others

The power of an invitation is so powerful. My biggest conversion happened because someone invited me to a Life Teen summer camp. I can point back to this single week and see where everything changed for me. Sure, I was really hesitant, but this personal invitation and saying, “I would love for you to be there” made all the difference. It can just be as easy as an invitation to messy games or a movie night. And then keep on inviting them.

Jon Givens wrote about this in another Life Teen blog:

You may feel that you are too young, or that you cannot truly make a difference. You may know someone at your school that is ‘beyond help’ or would never say yes to coming to church. But just imagine the risk you are taking by not asking and extending the invitation.

Your invitation will change someone’s life forever. You make the invitation, and hand the rest of the work over to God.

I challenge you to write down the names of five people that are on your heart to invite to a church event this summer. Start to pray for them, and when the time is right, extend that invitation.

God has given you a very short time to be in Edge or Life Teen. It’s precious and sacred. God is using this time intentionally to pursue your heart more and more. With every word spoken to you during a talk, with every word you read in a blog, and through every person you meet, He’s calling you deeper in these years. And even more on that, He wants to use you as His instrument to pursue the hearts of the people around you too. If one of these points stood out to you, or if God is calling you to work on something, pray about it and think of concrete ways to change.