THE BLOG

Why I Choose Not to Judge My Former Teenaged Self

09/10/2013 11:53 EDT | Updated 11/10/2013 05:12 EST

I just finished reading two blog posts on the matter of being a teenaged girl, and all that this entails. Matters concerning image and reputation and sexuality.

My own response is forthcoming. But first things first.

In light of the two opposing perspectives I hold within my own mind's eye -- that of having once been a teenaged girl and that of now being a grown woman, my response, for what it's worth, is mindful of the teenaged person I once was even as I am now this adult blogger with a different vantage point. But I must first preface the following response with this disclaimer: this is not yet another blog article about Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga or any other grown woman's decision to flaunt her body or not. Nor is it about making a judgment call on women in the public spotlight.

This is about me.

And it is about my own three daughters fast-approaching their teenaged years. Three girls whom I will forever hold as my most precious treasures. What they choose to do and say in the years to come matters greatly to me. So this response is really about what I want for them as they grow and blossom as young women, all along the way. And of course, our circle of reach and influence starts with those whom we hold the closest to our hearts. That's why this is personal for me. It's about us.

A few short years ago (okay, it was quite a number of them), I was a young teen-aged girl with a big heart. But just a little bit of common sense. Funny how that goes with the territory sometimes.

All in all, I was just your typical, ordinary teenaged girl, like many others around me then (and like those whom are still around me now). I loved my friends, loved my freedom when I could get it and I loved to have fun. I hated being down- I wanted to be UP. And I wanted to feel like there was always something to look forward to. Something exciting to anticipate. A sleep-over. A party. A date. A late night phone-call. A chance encounter. I was always looking to the next big thing. Nothing was ever enough to satisfy. And life was just full of surprises.

That's the way I wanted life to be. Never dull, never boring. Always exciting.

One thing I remember about this time in my life was my craving for acceptance and approval. I remember my desire to belong. I craved appreciation, particularly from the guys in my life. And I wasn't afraid to attract attention so as to get it. And what I remember about this time- what I remember most about being a teen aged girl would be some of the times that I made poor decisions so as to feel that love and acceptance, even if it cost me personally in the end.

There is always a cost for actions we take.

I know this now.

I know now that some of the decisions I made as a teen were done in bad taste. Were out of line with my own family's rules. Were out of line with what is acceptable with many family's rules, even by today's standards. And many decisions of which were also outside the acceptable standard norms of the church and faith of which I belonged.

Do I regret these decisions now as an adult? Yes. Do I make different decisions for myself now that I am an adult? Yes. But do I judge that girl from back then and think to myself 'How stupid was she? What complete idiots teen aged girls can be!'

No. I can't and I won't.

I can't bring myself to judge the person I used to be. I can't- because I love her, I love that fragile, uncertain, developing Me that once was. And I offer her grace. Because she is deserving of that and so much more. And so are all the other girls from the ages of times past even until this time now, this present we are living in. These young women, of whom will soon include my own three daughters, they are deserving of so much more than they even ask for themselves.

Deserving of love, respect, honor, integrity. Deserving of grace. Deserving of understanding.

Because there is more to a person than meets the eye. There is so much below the surface.

What has changed inside of the adult Me of today is a measure of understanding. I know now what I might not have fully understood back then: I am worthy of being cherished and loved on account of being both fearfully and wonderfully made. I am worthy of being protected via my public image on account that not everyone is going to see through to my heart when they see or read something that ties back to me. And I am deserving of respect and honor from the most important people in my life. On account of being a human being. I am deserving of my family's love and respect. My friends' love and respect. And I am deserving of respect and honor from the significant men who are in my life, most notably, my Husband.

The teenaged Me didn't really understand that she was worthy. That she was so deserving. And she didn't really 'get' that she was so incredibly valuable and precious in and of herself- as blessed in this way by virtue of the fact that she was a Child of God. She didn't really get this. And sometimes she used poor judgment and made bad decisions to cover for the fact that she was unsure of herself. Because she was insecure.

Because she felt vulnerable. And it's true- at times, she felt unworthy.

I am now an adult. I don't need someone else to fill up a void inside me that begs for attention or love or praise or appreciation or admiration or approval like I once might have done. But I have love and compassion for all those girls who are still finding themselves inside the murkiness that is the teenaged years. They are years of discovery and emotion and trial and error. Years deserving of grace and unlimited second chances. And teen girls are more than deserving of me taking the time to put myself back in the shoes of a certain teen aged girl so as to try and remember what those years were like. So as to remember what it felt like to still being learning about what it takes to be a woman who can feel proud and strong and free. A woman who can sense her own innate worth as a person.

I'm still learning about grace. I am still trying to grasp the vast depth of it all. At times it eludes me. But this I know for sure: it takes a lot of grace to let a person grow into the person they are meant to be. It takes a lot of grace to withhold judgement and offer love and compassion instead. It takes a lot of grace.

Without which, I know I wouldn't be the person I am today.