By Angie Ryg
Who is the most important person that you can have a relationship with starting today? Let me give you a hint, it is not that cute boy on the tennis team, even though, who knows, maybe you will end up marrying him. It is not any of your teachers, although it is very important to listen to your teachers. It is not even your mom, although she runs a close second! Girls, if you desire to have a vital relationship with Jesus, He is the one that you need to start thinking about as the most important person to spend time with today.
This does not mean that you will have a life of unending happiness, but you will find freedom. Freedom to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life! But this is where it gets tricky. Although, Jesus already did the work to be our Savior, we are able to join Him and become a part of a beautiful relationship. But just like any earthly relationship, it takes time and effort.
School has started and the relaxing ways of summer have gone and turned into busy activities such as studying for tests, practicing for tennis, keeping late hours at the theater, or maybe putting in even more hours at your after school job. You kept busy all summer, but now you have the added academic aspect of your life that you need to make time for in order to get everything you need to get done actually done.
But you can still take three steps to grow closer to God!
Talk to Him
God is waiting to hear you! He created you and He knows everything about you, but He still delights in hearing from you! It is like seeing a baby walk for the first time, there is joy and gladness in each step. God feels the same about you. You fill His heart with joy! And your prayers make a difference. It is when God allows you to join Him in His work for your beautiful purpose here on earth and for eternity!
Listen to Him
Just like your best friend wants you to listen to her and not be staring at your phone the whole time you are together, God wants you to listen to Him by reading His Word. I like to think of it as a love letter written just for me. It is called the Living Word for that reason. God will speak to you in very specific ways when you read it.
Spend Time with Him
Any relationship thrives when you spend time with the person. Spending time with God goes beyond reading the Bible or praying. Spending time can include worshipping at church or serving with your youth group. It can be taking a Saturday out of your week to share a meal at a homeless shelter or taking a younger girl out for ice cream to mentor her. Spending time serving others is a way to spend time with the Lord for it is He who will give you the power to serve joyfully.
Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
A relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship, giving us freedom to live, to serve, and to be fully loved by God! Let’s encourage one another to be intentional about this amazing relationship with Jesus!
By Brenda Yoder, LMHC
Intimate partner violence doesn’t begin when a ring is on a finger or when the guy moves in. It also happens in teen dating relationships.
Consider these facts:
-In 2001, 1 out of 5 female high school students reported being physically and/or sexually abused by a partner (Jay G. Silverman et al., “Dating Violence Against….,”Journal of American Medical Association, Nov. 5, 2001)
-Among female victims of intimate partner violence, a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend victimized 94% of those between ages of 16-19 (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 7, 2001).
-Females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group, at a rate triple to the national average (U.S. Department of Justice, “Special Report, Intimate Partner Violence & Age of Victim” Oct, 2001).
-88% of parents surveyed either believe teen dating violence isn’t an issue or admit not knowing it’s an issue (“Women’s Health” June/July, 2004, Family Violence Prevention Fund and Advocates for Youth).
As a service provider and educator for teen dating violence, I’ve spoken to teens in schools about teen dating violence. Teens admit it happens. Most of them are afraid to talk about it or don’t know where to begin to get help if they want to.
As a parent, there are red flags to be aware of if you see behavior in your teen’s dating relationships.
Your teen may be a victim of teen dating violence if they:
- Often apologize for their partner’s behavior.
- Sneak around and lie about behavior with their dating partner.
- Are isolated from friends and family when being with their dating partner.
- Frequently have to “check in” with their dating partner.
- Have a change in mood or character when around their dating partner.
- Experience extreme jealousy or possessiveness from their dating partner.
- Are afraid to make their partner angry.
- Get overly upset after a phone call, text message, or personal contact with their dating partner.
- Have unexplained marks on their body.
- Often request to be exclusively alone with their dating partner vs. both of them hanging out with family members when you are all together.
- Have a decline in school performance or lack of interest in social activities.
- Are afraid to make their partner upset.
- Are quick to do anything their partner asks of them.
If your teen has signs of an unhealthy relationship:
- Don’t minimize or ignore the unhealthy behavior.
- Listen to things your teen may NOT be saying. They often don’t come out and ask for help.
- Monitor your child’s online and digital behavior. Require knowledge of passwords, check cell phone, tablet and network history. Disable GPS tracking on their smartphone.
- If something doesn’t “feel” right to you, it probably isn’t.
- Listen to your teen. Don’t judge them if this behavior is happening, but support them.
If your teen is in an abusive relationship:
- Contact your local domestic violence agency for assistance with restraining orders or other information.
- Empower your teen to break up. Set boundaries for them, model words to say, and give them resources they can use for ending the relationship.
- Establish a safety plan with them.
- Keep record of harassing messages, online communication and contact local authorities.
- Talk to school officials about keeping your child safe at school.
- Seek professional help in your community.
If your young adult daughter is in an abusive relationship:
This is a matter of health and safety. While you can’t force your daughter out of a relationship, the severity of violence in a relationship is a matter of physical health and safety. While all situations are different, allowing a young adult to just “figure it out on their own” when there are clear warning signs that physical or sexual harm is taking place is not appropriate.
As Christian parents, especially fathers, we are still their protectors from real harm and danger. Giving your daughter the tools be aware of harmful relationships, how to handle herself in those situations and coaching her on red flags is appropriate. If, however, there is a real threat on her physical safety, trust your instincts on how to protect your child from life threatening harm or danger.
Gain more information. Resources for teen dating violence include:
National Dating Hotline – 1-866-331-9474
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE
By Grace Pohl
I always heard that your friends will change in high school and that you most likely won’t have the same friends when you graduate, but I never thought that would happen to me. Breaking news: I was wrong.
I wish I could have been more prepared for the growing pains when it came to losing friends or seeing friends change. I am 19 years old now – which is apparently makes me an adult – and I still struggle with it today.
If I am being completely honest, I enjoyed middle school a lot more than I enjoyed high school and that is because of my close group of friends I had back in middle school before we all changed. Granted, my friends were not the only people who changed, I did as well throughout high school.
But, I had two people I considered best friends that chose a different social life than me with partying and associated themselves with a new group of people, so we gradually grew apart. That was the hardest growing pain for me because I could not wrap my head around wanting to get high or drunk instead of eating pizza and watching Netflix.
I also have had friendships just grow apart since graduation, I still consider them a friend but I just do not see them or talk to them as much as I would want to. This is also hard because I never thought this would happen to me, I was the naive friend that thought we would stay close even when we chose different colleges.
High school changes people; there is no way around that. It can change people for the better or for worst, you just have to know that it is normal and that you are not the only one going through these situations.
I am not going to lie, losing friends stinks. I mean it is really like a breakup, just with your best friend instead of a boyfriend. But, you deserve better and new friends will come along the way whether you believe it or not.
It is hard to be a girl living in this world and not having a permanent best girlfriend by your side to share it with, but maybe you can beat these odds – I sure hope you can.
You do not have the settle for friends after you lose a few here or there, just like you should not settle for the first boy that talks to you. Your friends should prove that they deserve your friendship and not take your time for granted.
I look at it as I want quality rather than quantity. In other words, would you rather have four quarters or a hundred pennies?
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33