I’ve been working on a mini series of articles concerning daily issues for our young people, and how they cope with these issues. It is my hope that God will work through these posts to reach out to those in need of hope, encouragement and guidance, to let them know that they are not alone in their struggles. God cares about each and every one of us, and He wants to help us.
If you or someone you know has any ideas or suggestions about future posts, or are interested in doing a guest post, please leave a message in the comment section. As always, I’d love to hear from you!
I am very pleased to share with you the following guest post from Stephanie Kehr, a fine upcoming young author. Her article is on peer pressure, a subject that can be quite troublesome for us all. Please share, like, and leave a comment for her, and be sure to check out her blog, “Musings of a Creative Spirit”.
Thanks, and God bless! – Amber
Peer Pressure: What’s Your Strategy?
by Stephanie Kehr
The sound of twenty pleading teens echoed off the trees, collecting at my ears in a mash of noise and confusion.
“You should try it.”
“You’ll love it.”
It was just a swing. Well, a large swing. I’d be strapped in with harnesses and fitted with a helmet and protective gear. But having already tried such a stunt at a previous event, I knew the high swing wasn’t quite my cup of tea. In fact, if I’d had any tea before that attempt, it would have been instantly regurgitated.
“Look, we even got Bethany to do it,” someone nudged me.
I looked to see Bethany climbing the swing, her face as white as Elmer’s glue.
“You’re the only one who hasn’t tried! C’mon, don’t you submit to peer pressure?”
I paused a moment, evaluating myself. “No,” I finally said aloud. “I don’t.”
I’m a pure-bred homeschooler. If it weren’t for the kids I babysit, it’s likely I never would have been introduced to the popular video game, Call Of Duty. Unfortunately, I was introduced. But through the blood, gore, murder, and weapons, Call Of Duty actually taught me quite the lesson during my impromptu babysitting adventure.
If you don’t have strategy, you’ll be shot down.
You waltz into a room unguarded, and the enemy’s standing behind the door. He fires his gun. The bar turns red. Your man flashes and disappears. “End Game” appears on the screen. You toss down your controller, frustrated.
With peer pressure on the rise, teens and young adults are more and more often thrown at the mercy of their more popular (and often less intelligent) fellowmen. On the invisible battlegrounds of school, sports, parties, and even churches, the young adults striving for righteousness are often unguarded, caught by surprise, and slowly, but surely enticed by the people and things of this world.
Before we step out into society, it’s important for us to realize that if we don’t enter the battle alert and with strategy, we’ll be shot down.
Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” [KJV]
If we aren’t ready with our weapons, we give the enemy the opportunity to shoot first. If we’re not wearing the proper protective armor, our bar will turn red. If we don’t know how to jump out of the way, we’ll blink and fade. We’ll perish. End game.
Peer pressure’s pretty scary for a teen living in a big, ungodly, unknown world. The most frightening thing about peer pressure is that it sneaks up on us. You don’t realize you’ve got the disease until it’s too late. We’ve already been shot. We’re already following the wrong crowd. How do we make sure we’re firing first? How do we set ourselves up to make it through the teenage years alive?
While I can’t speak for every teen out there, I can speak for myself. Below I have listed five little “strategies” I’ve used to combat peer pressure in an attempt to “shoot first.”
1) Always, always, always, go back to the Bible.
You know that group of girls always hanging out by the water fountain at church? They like to gossip, slander, talk about boys, laugh at inappropriate jokes, flirt, and evaluate everyone’s outfit. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Not really. You could find worse.
So, what do you do when an adult or fellow teens urges you to join their group? You go back to the Bible. Even if the girls may look relatively harmless, Proverbs is cram-packed full of warnings against hanging out with gossips, slanderers, and fools. Don’t be like them, the Bible says. Be called. Be chosen. Be different.
Likewise, Ephesians 6:17 says, “And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [NASB]
The Bible is a weapon. If you’re constantly feeding on its truths, you’ll guard yourself against being pulled away by the lies of the world.
2) Keep your feet from evil
In other words, be wise. Don’t pack your head full of video games, dirty music, zombies, murder mysteries, and other garbage that has a bad effect on your mind and carries zero eternal value. Take Philippians 4:8 as an example:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” [NASB]
If you don’t allow yourself to become interested in the things of the world, you’ll be less likely to be pulled astray.
3) Set your own standards and stick with them
I don’t tend to go to extracurricular youth get-togethers, because they often promote flirtatiousness, which isn’t something I want to get a heavy dose of. I strive to live set-apart. I don’t spent a huge amount of time with worldly friends. Mostly, when I don’t particularly want to participate in an event, I don’t allow myself to give in to the pressure. Think about Call Of Duty again. You only have a set amount of lives, right? Every time you give into some small and “harmless” pressure, you’re setting yourself up to give into something that might not be so small and harmless. You’re setting yourself up for the loss of that final life. The red bar. The flash. End game.
Everyone has different God-given standards. What kind of standards have you set for yourself? Do you stick with them?
4) Evaluate your influences and choose your friends wisely
If I notice myself beginning to slip spiritually, the first thing I do is look at my influences. I look at who I’m hanging out with frequently, and I ask myself who I’m looking up to most. Usually, evaluating, pinpointing, and dealing with the issues in my influential relationships solve half of my problems.
5) Find older mentors
There’s no way to avoid peer pressure if you’re constantly hanging out with, well…peers. I often try to spend quality time with younger teens and kids in order to be a good influence and a blessing to them. However, I also make a point to spend a decent amount of time with older influences, too, whether they’re in their twenties, fifties, or seventies. We learn from older people, it’s true. The Bible talks about having older mentors and Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of council, but with many advisors they succeed.” Older councilors have been through peer pressure before us and can offer advice. Sometimes they catch our faults, too, and things we don’t see in ourselves.
When we learn to put together a strategy to avoid peer pressure, we need to plan with the understanding that without prayer and a genuine relationship with God, our strategy will ultimately fail. He is the light in a dark world. He is our strength when we are weak. No matter how tough it may be or how far into the world we may venture, it’s important to always remember our God is faithful, loving, compassionate, and He wants you to lean on Him and Him alone.
Stephanie is a seventeen-year-old dreamer, child of God, and story crafter. She began penning novels as a twelve-year-old and completed her first book at fifteen. In 2013, Stephanie signed with Ellechor Publishing House as a teen author. The release date of her Christian fiction novel, Reaching Home has not yet been announced.
If she isn’t too busy dreaming up kingdoms and reciting poetry, Stephanie plans to graduate with an English degree before her nineteenth birthday. Currently living with her homeschooling family of eight, she hopes to get married one day and move to an isolated cabin by the sea.
Visit Stephanie’s website (www.stephaniekehr.blogspot.com) where she talks about writing, publishing, being a teen author, and her crazy everyday life.
Meet Nick Vujicic. Even though he was born with no arms or legs, he says, “God still uses me as His hands and feet”. I have never met a stronger or more courageous man, nor a more humble man. His wit and sense of humor combined with a willingness to give all the glory and credit to God for his accomplishments is such an inspiration to me. Nick may not have arms or legs, but I believe God has given him wings to reach out to other souls.
Please watch this video, and then prayerfully share it with others. God bless – Amber
Flowers for Mom
As Mother’s Day was approaching, I found myself dreading it. This would be the first one without Mom, and it was hard to face. Since her death a couple of months ago, grief has hit me in waves and unexpectedly at times. For the most part, I’ve tried to push the thoughts out of my mind in order to keep functioning, to continue doing the day to day things of life.
Yesterday, as I was helping my son with his school work, a thought came into my mind out of the blue. The realization came hard that I can’t call my mother anymore, that I won’t hear her say “I love you”, or her words of encouragement telling me to “keep trying” or “well done”, and that I’ll never have another chance to tell her how much I love her. Never again will I be able to give her flowers, something that always put a beautiful smile on her face.
I thought back to this past Valentines Day. I remembered the smile on Mom’s face when my son and I surprised her with flowers and candy. A few moments later, Dad also surprised her with flowers and candy. Her eyes twinkled like the stars with happiness as she proudly placed her flowers on display. I was reminded of how when I was a child, I used to pick dandelions and other wildflowers for her. She always smiled with pride as she placed them with care into a glass or vase, something like I do now when my son brings me flowers.
As the tears began to fill my eyes, my son looked at me for a moment. Very thoughtfully he said, “It’s ok to miss her. We always miss what we love when it’s not here anymore”. Then he placed his hand on my chest and said, “But what made her special to you will always be in here. That won’t ever be taken away because God put her there in your heart for you”.
Then a new thought began to form in my mind. I was thinking about how even though I found comfort in knowing that Mom was no longer in any pain, and that I would see her again in heaven someday, there was still a lot of sadness and a sense of loss. That’s when it occurred to me, I have lost something! I have lost something that was very precious to me, and I miss it very much! I realized that when you lose something important to you, it takes time to adjust to not having it.
My life is different now, a part of it has changed. It may be hard to accept it and adjust to the change, but change is a constant part of life. And my son is right, even though Mom’s body may be gone, she is still here with me, right here in my heart! Just as all those flowers from over the years have died and are gone, but the pictures of them are still in my memories and the joy they brought is still in my heart.
As I have stated in many of my previous posts, my faith and trust in Jesus is what gives me strength to carry on. And I am so thankful for everything He has done for me. Going through this grieving process is not easy, but I know He is helping me through it. He touches my heart on a daily basis through the comforting and encouraging words of others around me, like my son. He reminds me often of the beauty of His creations, when the rain is followed by sunshine and flowers. And His Word constantly lifts my spirit with the promises of His love for me. His Word also tells me to be helpful and encouraging to others. That is why I am writing this post.
I know that I am not the only one with a grieving heart. The world is full of hurting people. But it is my hope and prayer that my words may find their way to touch another heart that is hurting, to let you know that you are not alone. I want to tell you that there is hope, that even in the midst of pain, you can have peace and comforting. Jesus never promised that life would be easy, but He did promise that with Him, the burdens would be made bearable. A part of my heart may be hurting in missing my Mom, but Jesus gave me another part of my heart where there is joy in remembering the love we shared.
At first, I didn’t think I wanted to celebrate this Mother’s Day. I thought it would be too painful. But I have decided that even though I know there will be tears, I am going to celebrate it anyway. In memory of my Mom, and in honor of God’s gift of having known her love, I am buying flowers to give away. I am also giving away copies of my book, Faith, Hope & Miracles. And I will be spending the day with my youngest son, building more joyful memories to fill our hearts, and praising God for creating mothers.
I don’t know exactly what it’s like in heaven, but the bible says that “…with God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). So I’m asking God to give flowers to all the mothers who are in heaven, and that they know their love is remembered.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! You are forever in my heart. – Amber