Walking around campus, everyone seemed to have a version. The laptop covered in decals. The bookbag coated with buttons. The water bottle plastered with stickers.
People used these items to physically express their identity. Labels, really … right?
With those “labels,” it was easy to establish expectations of someone before they ever got the chance to talk. I could identify and expect exactly who someone was solely based on a dozen little prints on something they owned.
Fair? Maybe not. On par with who I was during those years? For sure.
I had a water bottle that certainly looked like I was closely following Jesus. My weekend nights and the way I was living said very differently. The stickers I chose to plaster on that little piece of plastic were who I wanted to be. Definitely not who I actually was.
One of my best friends sat me down and challenged me to be truer to who I was created to be. I was really angry because so much of what they told me was true. After the anger died, I took a serious look at where my life was going. I started to change my tune and accept I had friends around me who wanted to support me in growing. Little tweaks allowed me to get to where my heart and actions were in line with what I was sharing with the world.
Here are some ways I started to get my real life to look like the one on my Hydroflask.
Grew in Community Romans 12:4-5
I was already involved on campus in clubs and organizations I was interested in, but I hadn’t really tried to create or maintain relationships with the people around me. I looked around each place I was involved in and asked myself, “are there people here I want to be more like?” and “do I see qualities and characteristics that I’d like to have?”. If the answer was no, I saw myself out. If I could answer yes, I plugged into those groups and actively worked to create friendships.
Asked for Accountability Hebrews 10:24–25
This part was humbling. No one likes to admit they are struggling or they feel bad about something, but I knew I had to honestly ask my friends to hold me accountable to be better. I needed to get to a place where my actions and my words lined up – why not ask those in my day-to-day with me for help? So I brought in a trusted few, and surprise, surprise, I started to get away with less, and I saw my relationships grow stronger.
Spent Time in Scripture Acts 2:42
Discipline and routine are tough. Add in the demands of school, sports, friends, faith, family, and sleep – discipline and routine are almost impossible. Establishing a daily habit of prayer was a challenge, but I knew that to understand who I was and who my identity came from, I had to get to know Jesus better. I eased into 5-10-15 minute prayer sessions in the morning, where I started by spending time in the gospel of Mark. As my comfort level grew, my time in prayer did too! Set an alarm, throw on Do Not Disturb, and grab your Bible and a highlighter – I think you’ll be surprised by how quickly time passes and the way God works.
There were two different versions of me during those years. It’s funny to think so much of who I wanted to be back then is who I am now. Restored and redeemed – that’s what God can do. He can mold and shape our lives to reflect what He has done in our hearts.
Fear of appearances impacted me a lot. I know how hard it is to be someone else, depending on your social circle. Some of you might want to live in a Catholic way but threw a Planned Parenthood sticker on your water bottle because everyone else is doing it. You might believe in the Theology of the Body when you’re with one group, but your laptop stickers show differently on campus. I know how hard this can be. I lived this.
But now, because of Him, when I’m walking around Atlanta with icons on my phone case, I know my life is actually in line with the words on the back of that phone. If someone were to talk to me, what they saw on my phone and what they heard me say would line up. So now, when I see stickers lining a bottle or decals on the laptop cover, I have a little more trust in who someone shows up to be.
Want to add Life Teen Stickers to your Hydro? Check ‘em out and spread the word!
What would your stickers include? Check out my favorites here and create a board of your own!