Let’s contextualize things for a moment: 4 years ago I was a stressed-out teenager in my final years of high school. I was doing all the hardcore science and maths subjects and needed high grades to apply for medical school. Since then, I have graduated, got my driver’s license, started part-time work and am in my 3rd year of studying Occupational Therapy in Curtin University (not Medicine, as I planned).
School has been, and continues to be, a big part of my life and perhaps your life too. But schooling life aside, I am first and foremost a Christian striving to please my Father and bring others into His love. These are the 3 things I wish I knew 4 years ago…
You are forgiven when you ask for it.
This may seem basic, but do we really believe this?
I found myself asking for forgiveness each time I prayed even if I didn’t think I had sinned. Although there is nothing wrong with this practice, after 7 years as a Christian I aught to have reached a level of understanding whereby I know what sin is. Sin is no mystery; God’s Word makes it perfectly clear to us. Asking God to “forgive me if I have sinned” doesn’t demonstrate humility, it shows immaturity. Likewise, we aught not simply ask for forgiveness when we know we have sinned. Pray for forgiveness and specify the sin you have committed. It is possible to go a day without sinning or even a year!
Later on I noticed that I’d continue to feel guilt after praying for forgiveness and thus, pray several times to be forgiven of a specific sin. Did God not forgive me when I asked the first time?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9)
While sin is something we should feel Godly sorrow towards, guilt should be removed once we ask for forgiveness. Next time you pray for forgiveness, breathe in, breathe out and know you are forgiven.
Instagram test for less stress.
We all know stress has its place, its not always a bad thing. For the purpose of this point I am referring to the dysfunctional, destructive stress. Do you resort unhealthy habits for self-soothing in times of stress or anxiety? I did, until I started using the ‘Instagram test’.
When I notice my body tensing or my thoughts becoming increasingly negative, it’s often because something is stressing me. In times like this…
- Locate the stress.
- *snap* take a picture of it.
- Upload it mentally onto an instagram profile of your whole life.
- Scroll through all the other pictures you have taken, times of celebration and times of stress.
- Keep scrolling through all the pictures you haven’t taken yet…perhaps they are pictures of your graduation day? your wedding day? your children’s wedding day? the day you meet your Heavenly Father? pictures of your life spent in eternity?
- Scroll back up to the stress you are experiencing now…virtually insignificant isn’t it?
Choose to view your situation from your main profile page where you can view all the images together rather than scroll through one at a time. Put your current stress into perspective of eternity then delete it from your profile.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Learn when to say “NO”.
In Matt 25 we read of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The ‘wise’ ones received this label not only because they were prepared for the bridegroom but also because they knew when to say ‘NO’. When the foolish virgins asked for some oil, the wise ones refused. Helping someone (fellow Christian or not) is definitely something we should do to proclaim Jesus but at the same time should not come at the cost of your own salvation.
Learning when to say “NO” is much harder than it seems. It requires a high level of wisdom, maturely, strength, foresight and a deep understanding of your own temptations or spiritual ‘weak spots’. We can succumb to sin despite being motivated by love, compassion and a desire to help (1 Pet 5:8, Matt 10:37, 2 Sam 6:6-7). Helping someone through a break up or tragic event, helping a sister or brother who is falling away, being there for someone struggling with addiction, mental illness or other temptation that you likewise face, may all be situations where there is wisdom in saying “NO”. Saying ‘YES’ to providing help to someone while jeopardizing your own spiritual well-being is not the ultimate example of self-sacrificial love (Matt 16:26). It’s foolishness.
“…older women … be … teachers of good things – that they admonish the young women…”
You are an ‘older woman’. We are all older than someone. I don’t know about you, but I am not looking at the example of 30, 50 or 70-year-old women as much as I am looking at women who are only a few years older than me. Form genuine relationships with the women slightly younger than you. Be an example of a ‘real’ Christian woman who doesn’t know it all, who isn’t above sin, who is imperfect and doesn’t have all the answers. Be there to offer your own ‘3 things you wish you knew 4 years ago’. Be willing to listen to theirs.
By Rebecca Chalupsky
Rebecca is a tea-loving, art-loving, cut-stuff-loving, soon-to-be-21-year-old who is studying Occupational Therapy. Born in South Africa, she now lives in windy Perth Australia where she attends the Central North Church of Christ. She was baptized in 2007 and aims to encourage other young ladies to grow into the strong, beautiful women God wants them to be.