Growing up I was the only Christian in my group of friends at school, and often my mum would seem stricter about what I was and wasn’t allowed to do compared to other people’s parents. For example, I wasn’t allowed to go to “nappy night” for under 18’s at the local club until I was 13, even though all my friends went at the age of 11.
I wasn’t allowed to watch certain movies, listen to music that had swearing or go trick-or-treating with my friends on halloween. And although now these seem like really trivial things, at the time I often felt like the odd one out.
There weren’t loads of youth my age in my church, the majority were either a bit younger or older and my closest friends were those I met at school, so outside of home, God wasn’t really ever on the agenda.
He wasn’t something me and my friends talked about much and although during primary school some of my friends had come to church with me, by year 8, even I wasn’t as interested in going every Sunday.
As a young woman, being a Christian was something that made me feel different and got in the way of time with my friends on Sundays. At that age, I didn’t want to be different, I wanted to fit in with my peers.
When I was 14 I stopped going to church completely, my mum didn’t believe in forcing me to go and so I decided not to, I didn’t feel connected within church, didn’t think I really got anything out of it and didn’t believe that I needed to understand or agree with everything in the bible. I didn’t realise at the time, but what I was actually saying was “I don’t need a relationship with Jesus.”
Unfortunately it was going to be 10 years before I would realise that I really did need Jesus, and those 10 years were really hard at times.
Growing up is full of struggles and challenges, whether it’s dealing with body-image issues, going through your first heartbreak, trying to do well at school, deciding your future path, or just resisting peer pressure to do things you know you shouldn’t.
These are real challenges that can weigh heavy on a young woman, and unfortunately when God is no longer in the picture, sometimes our decisions and attitudes can lead us down the wrong path, with consequences we hadn’t realised. I can’t tell you how many times during that period I would feel completely hopeless inside.
Looking back I realise now that if I had been living for Jesus and continued my relationship with Him, I would have made wiser decisions, I would have known my worth and I wouldn’t have felt so hopeless at times. Jesus is the one who gives us hope. He is the one who will never stop loving you and never stop looking out for you.
So if you’re ever feeling like “the odd one out” because you’re a Christian, just know that it is only a season you’re going through and it’s OK to feel the way you do. If you continue to put God first and invest in your relationship with Him, even when you don’t feel like it, you will see His faithfulness and love for you.
You’ll realise that He is the very best friend you could ever have – never let yourself lose out on that!
Psalm 32:8 [NLT]: The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”