An Open Letter to My High School Youth Group

An Open Letter to My High School Youth Group

"I thank my God every time I remember you."
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Dear high school youth group,

13-year-old me never would’ve imagined the impact you all would have on me throughout my high school years. Yeah, I liked the idea of youth group. I liked the free pizza and the cool lights, but I did not expect to grow so much with you over the past few years. God used each of you so profoundly to help me develop spiritually. You helped me realize that it’s okay to be awkward and weird. It’s okay to be the person God was shaping me into, rather than trying to uphold the façade of being the “good Christian” or striving to fit in with the cool kids. Through our endless hip youth group names, hundreds of malfunctioning band practices, endless binders of unorganized papers, the awkward teenage years, and years of youth camps, you all became my family.

I’m sorry I had to leave you all for college. It’s difficult to see us going our separate ways, but I know when I come home from school that you will all be there with open arms and tackle hugs. Even though we don’t keep in touch as much as we said we would, it brings me so much joy to see you remaining steadfast in your faith and working to grow the Kingdom. I want you to know that I miss you more than you could ever know. I’ve seen so much growth in all of you, and I could not be more excited to see what God is going to do in and through each of you.

So I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for keeping me accountable and calling me out when I wasn’t displaying the Kingdom. Thank you for being my shoulders to cry on and for constantly making me laugh. Thank you for keeping me entertained on car trips to camp. Thank you for loving me through some of the hardest years of my life. Thank you for being my constant love and support. Thank you for the endless inside jokes. Thank you for volunteering me to play ridiculous youth group games (that one was kind of sarcastic - no one actually wants to eat crickets or mayonnaise Twinkies). Thank you for playing "Taylor Swift or Lamentations" with me. Most importantly, thank you for constantly supporting me and showing me Jesus, even when I didn’t want to see Him.

Though it’s sad to see you all growing up, I know God is using you in major ways for His glory. We’ve been through a lot together, friends. Through all of the challenges and struggles we’ve faced, you all have been reminders that God is constant and good, regardless of circumstances. From food fights to cry-hugs, you have been some of my closest and most loyal friends, and I am so thankful for your presence in my life.

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If God Didn’t Intend For Women To Be Equals, Why Did She Make Us So Incredible?

Yeah, I said She.

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An article that absolutely infuriates me has gone viral. As a feminist, as a writer, and simply as a woman, it drives me up a wall to see another woman proclaiming that God's plan for women was to "submit to their husbands."

I don't know where to start with all the issues I found in reading the piece, so I'll start with what a feminist is. It's a subjective term and its connotation varies from person to person.

But to me, feminism is being empowered and expressive individuals with open minds and open hearts. They are activists for change and equality. They have concerns about the environment and global warming. They acknowledge issues within sexism and racism and then try to figure out how to solve them. They see that the world isn't perfect.

Feminists are the reason we can vote. They're the reason birth control is an option for us. They're why we're allowed to wear pants. They're why we have careers. The female pioneers paved the way for anything we're allowed to do, and they are why we celebrate the power of women every March.

But instead, the woman who wrote "I'm A Christian And I'm Not A Feminist, Because God Did Not Intend For Women To Be Equals," used our month of pride for clout. And took justification from The Bible to do it.

The Bible is not an instruction manual. It was written over many, many years by hordes of sexist men whose existence we have minimal proof of. And over the last thousand years, it's been translated and reinterpreted more times than anyone could ever keep track of. That's not to say it doesn't have some good lessons, but lessons are all they are.

Thinking your worth and capabilities were planned for you thousands of years in advance is ignorant. Religion and The Bible and God are as subjective as feminism. Everything is open-ended. One person's view of who or what God is not going to be the same as the last.

Commonly, God is seen as a man at the center of the universe who holds all existence in his hands. He is the reason why anyone does anything. He is the rule maker. And He is judging us and waiting for our every mistake.

But as a proud feminist, I've chosen to have my own idea of this holy being. I wasn't brought up in church, but I decided to believe in something much greater than myself or anything I've ever seen just because I wanted to. I want to believe that faith has to come from somewhere, and I didn't want a book making the rules for me.

Just by watching life move through time, I happen to believe God is the good in all of us. Not one being, but he beginning and the end of everything. The push and the pull. The conscious and subconscious. And considering that God is the creator, I've concluded God must be a woman because women are the creators.

And in my experience, women have proved themselves to be much stronger and more capable than any man.

As for what She creates, I think She makes no mistakes. I think She tests our patience and beliefs by giving us what we don't expect. There's intent and love in everything She gives us. I think every woman was made to be relentless, imperfect, fearless, and even a little rebellious.

And if we're saying Adam and Eve were the start of it all, then God proved that right off the bat. God saved the best for last, and then made her a badass. Yes, the first woman came into this world as a rule breaker. She questioned authority. And since the beginning of time, authority has been a snake. The world is our forbidden fruit to bite.

The sole purpose of a woman isn't to submit to anyone. A woman can do whatever she damn well pleases, just as any man. A woman's worth isn't tied to what kind of wife or mother she is and how closely she follows the rules. I was raised by the most incredible mom and wife. She did happen to stay at home with me and be the traditional woman. But while she was home, she taught me how great it is to be a woman. She made sure I knew I could be whoever I wanted and would pay no consequences for that.

My parents didn't raise me in a church. And I never saw that as a flaw or lack of judgment. My southern home was like a church; full of faith and love. But on Sundays, we would sleep in and have a big breakfast at noon because we had too much fun staying up late Saturday night dancing around our living room to music. Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Madonna led the choir — singing about independence and the power of being empowered as women.

As a feminist, I will not judge those who haven't accepted all the honors of being female. I can just tell everyone how wonderful it is to stand for something. I can set an example so that more women will go forward.

And despite what anyone thinks of feminism, there's nothing exclusive about it. Feminists don't think they're any better than men, they just want the chance to prove their capabilities. It's so much bigger than thinking men suck. The truth is, we should have men at our side, not in front of or behind us. And not for romantic partnerships, but as allies. The best men are feminists too. We can make this walk alone, but there's power in numbers and in diversity.

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