Recently, a young female celebrity who was once a sweet-faced child star was in trouble (again) for being drunk. Magazines displayed photos of her passed out in a car after a night of hard partying. Her fans quickly came to her defense. One wrote:
People really need to ease up on the girl. If every twenty-year-old were thrown into rehab for drinking and partying, the colleges would be empty. It’s a rite of passage for many people. [She] will be just fine.
That mentality pervades our culture. It says, “What you do now doesn’t affect the future.” Here’s how we see it impacting young women. They said things to us like:
- “I’ll settle down when I get older / graduate / get a job.”
- “I won’t have this freedom forever, so I might as well enjoy it now.”
- “I’m only seventeen. I don’t need to worry about _____ yet.”
Believing this lie feeds so many others. A great example of this is how so many we spoke to say they intended to marry a Christian, but since they weren’t looking for a marriage partner yet, they could go out with non-Christians. This thinking is so dangerous.
What you choose to do now will either form habits you have to break in the future or habits that are helpful to you. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” If you plant corn, you’re not going to soon have turnips tumbling out of your garden. In the same way, every action has results. If you plant to please your own desires, you’ll reap a crop of consequences. If you plant to please God, you’ll reap joy, peace, and everlasting life.
Habits are a result of seemingly insignificant individual choices and acts that you sow when you’re twelve, fifteen, or twenty. They can be good or bad. You’ll reap what you sow. You’re sowing seeds now. What you do with your time, your eating habits, your exercise habits, the way you talk, the way you talk to your parents, the way you treat your friends, the way you spend your money, the way you work, your sleep habits… These are habits you are developing today.
I (Nancy) made a lot of unwise choices about what to eat when I was a teenager and in my twenties. I ate more meals than you can imagine at a fast-food chain that shall remain unnamed—actually I would order a hamburger (make that a double burger with cheese, ketchup, and pickles) and fries at the drive-through and inhale them in my car on my way to wherever I was headed next. To this day, it has been a major challenge in my life to develop healthy eating habits.
- the books you read
- the magazines you read
- the television programs you watch
- the music you listen to
- the conversations you have
- the friends you choose
- what time you go to bed
- what time you get up in the morning
Little things matter a lot.
There’s one habit that was emphasized more than any other in my (Nancy’s) home as I was growing up. I don’t think there is any more important habit you could possibly develop as a teen. It is the practice of spending consistent time getting to know God through His Word. Every aspect of your life, short term and long term, will be affected by this one habit.
I am so grateful that my parents modeled this practice and encouraged me to develop a consistent devotional life as a young girl. I cannot adequately express what a huge difference this habit has made in my life.
I’m not saying it’s easy—as much as I value my time with the Lord, there have been plenty of mornings when I’ve allowed the pillow, my laptop, or other distractions to win out and ended up spending only a few hurried moments with Him. But I know that I can’t be the woman God made me to be apart from having an intimate relationship with Him. And that requires spending time on a regular basis listening to Him speak through His Word and responding to Him in worship and prayer.
Over the years, I have challenged women to get started in this area by making a commitment to spend at least some time with the Lord in His Word every day for the next thirty days. Thousands of women have taken that challenge, and many have written back and told me what a difference it has made in their lives. Would you be willing to take that same “thirty-day challenge”? I can’t think of a single habit that will have a greater impact on your life over the long haul.
Once you start to experience the blessings of meditating on God’s Word and spending time alone in His presence, we believe this is a habit you will want to maintain for the rest of your life!