I am 14 years old and a freshman in high school. I grew up in the church and believed in God, but now, I am not so sure. I see what is going on in this world, this country, and my hometown and I have to wonder if there is a God, where is he? I have friends whose parents both work full-time jobs and just barely have food on the table. She told me yesterday that they couldn’t even afford a single Christmas present this year. I see people starving not only all over the world but right here in my town. I read about human trafficking and people doing opioids to escape their pain.
I see people in my school that are so stressed out and have such low self-esteem that they hurt themselves or do whatever it takes to be liked. I see Instagram and Snapchat pictures of smiles on their faces but I look in their eyes and see nothing but hurt. I know I am loved, but there are so many people my age who do not feel loved or do not know who they are.
I have friends I go to church and Wildlife and now Younglife with that are having these same issues and are leaving the church or just quit believing. I want to believe there is a God, I want to believe there is hope and love in this world, but I am struggling.
Mr. editor, I am 14 years old, I should not have to worry if today is the day I go to school and someone will shoot me and my friends.
So, is there a God and if so, where is he?
First, thank you for your letter. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It does not matter if you are four or fourteen or forty-four, we are all frustrated with the world we live in.
I am not a theologian, simply a writer, and I will do my best to answer your questions.
A simple answer to your question, where is God, would be that we, or some people, asked him to leave our schools, we told him we didn’t need him and we stopped praying, we told him we could do it on our own. So, he simply left.
But like I said, that is a simple answer and also the wrong answer because I do not believe he left at all. I see teenagers every day that are making a difference. You probably see them, and maybe you are one of them, that take a stand against bullying, that reaches out to someone who is hurting, even if that person is not in their “circle.” They are the ones that will do what is right, not what is popular, no matter what others will think about them. Kylie, that is where you will find God.
I know our church collects gifts to give to those in need and can’t afford Christmas presents. Not only our church but churches and communities and individuals that give to the needy, like your friend’s family, so that they can have a Christmas. I know this time of year is hard for families with financial hardships, but when you see others giving and volunteering to help those in need, that is where God is.
I see the same news and social media you see about the evil in this world, such as human trafficking and drug overdoses. That’s what the news wants you to see, but they do not show the good that is out there. You truly have to search for it to know that for every bad news story, there is a good one. The Bible says seek and you will find.
I ask you to do that Kylie, turn away from the news feeds and search for good. Organizations like ECPAT-USA, ecoatusa.org, who are also international, or Polaris Project, polarisproject.org. Even right here in central Ohio there is Out Of Darkness Columbus Ohio, outofdarknesscolmbusoh.org and Live United Delaware County, liveuniteddelawarecounty.org.
There are thousands and thousands of other organizations and individuals that are fighting against evil in this world. That is where God is Kylie.
How do I know God exists? Take a look at our planet Earth. If it were positioned just a few inches from where it is located, it would not exist. Think about that Kylie. If the earth was located less than half the size of your iPhone, it would not be able to support human life. Scientists can’t even disagree with that.
How else do I know God exists? Well, it is you and me and every other human in this world. None of us are exactly the same. Who could make billions of people and not one of them is the same? How could billions of people exist that are all unique down to the tiniest DNA in their bodies if they were not created by God? Do you think that could happen by chance? I do not.
I did not always feel this way. Unlike you, Kylie, who grew up in church and knew about God and his love from the moment you were born, I did not. I did things my own way and ran my own life and was desperate to change the way I was living and one day I just stopped and turned around. I let God, who was pursuing me my entire life, catch me. And when he caught me, my life changed. I fell to my knees and I wept. Which was strange to me because I was raised to not show my feelings. To keep it all inside and be tough like a man. But that very moment God caught me, I was overwhelmed with love. As I learned about God, I learned about who he made me to be and what my identity is in Him. Not what everyone else thinks of me, but what God thinks of me. That changed my life.
Kylie, I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been divorced twice and tore apart my family because I was selfish and did things my way. Christians are humans and like all humans, we all make mistakes. After I accepted God into my life, seven years ago the unthinkable happened. My wife had an affair. It started around this time of year and I kept hearing a voice, or having a sixth sense if you will, to check her emails. Call it God trying to get involved before it got too far or call it the devil trying to tell me to look at what I helped your wife do, I do not know, but I ignored it because I trusted her. Until I could not ignore it and I found out the truth. In my anger, rage, hurting, and how could you, I wanted a divorce. Then on January 17th, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning and crying and at 2:37 am, I felt the need to bundle up and take a walk. I remember the exact day and time because it is the first time I heard God speak to me. As I walked outside and tears streamed down my face and I yelled at God why, how could he let this happen, I looked up and saw the many many stars. In the stillness of the cold night, I heard him say stay, this is not about you, it’s about her and I need you to stay and be strong and help me help her come back to us. Over the next few weeks, a peace came over me and instead of yelling and saying hurtful things, I spoke words I never thought I could speak. They were not my words but God’s. Seven years later, even though not all is perfect, no marriage is, we are still proof of God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love.
Kylie, Only God can heal a man like me, a marriage torn apart by an affair, and the brokenness of the people in this world.
We only have to be still and ask for him to help us and tell us what to do.
My dad did not believe in God. Thankfully, to his wonderful wife, my mother, who had a heart of gold and to his caretakers over the last few months of his life, and maybe to the way I lived my life after I accepted God, he accepted that Jesus is his lord and savior and invited him into his life shortly before he passed. I wish he could have had more time to know how much God loves him but in my grieving, I also knew that I would see him again. Only God can heal the grieving and the hurting Kylie.
Kylie, I wish everyone your age, or any age, knew what their true identity in Christ is. I believe that if everyone knew how much they were loved, how they were chosen to be born and that there is a plan for their life that there would less hurt in this world. I wish that they defined themselves as God defines them. That they would understand that false identity comes from the brokenness in this world. Trust that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that they were forgiven and that there is a better way to live this thing we call life. I wish that they would find their plan and purpose for what God has for them, not what this world tells them they should be.
Kylie, do not choose happiness. It is an emotion like sadness or anger or excitement. It comes and goes with circumstances. Choose joy and love Kylie. No matter what you are going through choose to love, choose to be joyful. That is where you will find God.
You can choose what your heart will follow, Kylie, and what your heart follows is where you will be. Choose goodness, compassion, empathy. Choose to follow the good in the world and people will follow you because they will see how you live. Kylie, that is where God will be.
I recently saw the movie Overcomer. I could tell you a million quotes that I wish every teenager would know in this social media world where everything is based on smiles and likes but one I would like to share is this: people always try to tell you to look like this person or do something this way because it is popular but knowing that God loves you and he made you, why would you want to be anyone else.
Be yourself. Kylie, When you realize and accept that, your self-image and your identity and your view of the world will change. Filter out the negatives and live in the positives.
You, Kylie, are a child of God and you are here for a reason.
Kylie, I wish this world was not what it is. I wish and pray today when you go to school that it won’t be your last day on this earth. But, I beg you Kylie, do not live in fear. God does not live in fear. Live with hope Kylie, go out today and change the world. Be the one who shows the world that God is alive and well and that he lives in you.
Kylie, even in the bad I see all around me, I choose to see the good more. From the morning sunrise to the evening stars, from the leafless trees of winter to the first flower that blooms in the spring. From the first breath a baby takes to the last breath someone breathes. There is a shell that covers this unseen world and people choose to believe in what only they can see but there are mysteries in the unseen that we will never fully understand but it is as real as the next breath you take. You must have faith, hope and love, Kylie. That is where God resides and that is where you will find him. From the beginning to the end, I choose to see God in all of it and that is how I know God was here yesterday, he is here today, and he will be here tomorrow.
Kylie, God is alive and well and he is in you. He made you and he saved you, he loves you, he blesses you, he protects you, you are chosen and he died for you, Kylie. If you will find it in your heart to believe how much you are loved and chosen then you, too, will see him everywhere for he will be with you everywhere you go.
In the good and the bad, in the laughter and the tragedy, seek him, Kylie. He is there.
And that my dearest Kylie, is how I know that God exists and that he is here today.
She was born into a home that didn’t want her. She was neglected and mistreated. She was told she wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t wanted. One day they proved that to be true and they gave her away. Through it all she smiled.
She was adopted a short time later by parents that wanted her. Parents that loved her. She had nightmares. She was comforted by her new parents. She was told how much she was loved. She was taught about God. She was told how much she was wanted. Through it all she smiled.
As she continued to grow and get older people would ask what is wrong with her. How can she always be smiling? She must be hiding something. She would tell them all is good, nothing to hide. She just loves life and is so happy to be here. They would tease her but through it all she smiled.
She met a guy. She fell head over heels. Everything in her life was perfect. Until it wasn’t. He started to yell at her all the time. He started to abuse her. She tried to leave but he would convince her to stay. She would believe him when he said he would change. Slowly her smile started to fade.
She became pregnant. He didn’t change. She knew she had to leave him, not only for her but for the baby. She could remember how her biological parents treated her. She didn’t want her baby growing up the same. She moved back to her adopted parents, her real parents. Slowly her smile came back.
She read her bible and raised her little girl on her own. She knew who she was and why she was here. She taught her little girl about God. She was told she was loved and wanted. She told her about her dad and about her Father in Heaven. It wasn’t always easy but through it all, they smiled.
On her last day here she thanked God for everything in her life. The good and the bad. She thanked Him for giving her a thankful heart. For giving her a smile through everything attitude. For giving her life lessons to teach her daughter. For giving her parents that didn’t want her, and for giving her parents that did. For giving her a home to grow up in that taught her about Him. She thanked Him for helping her forgive, her parents and her ex- husband. She took her last few breaths and as she left this world she smiled.
Think of these songs as a soundtrack to the reading.
Alyssa Lies by Jason Michael Carroll –
When Love Takes You In by Steven Curtis Chapman –
Orphan by John Waller –
Everything To Me by Mark Schultz –
You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile by Sia –
“Hi there. I am glad you found me. I’m not as easy to find as I used to be. I know the Guinean Forests aren’t an easy place to get around. Trust me, I know. Living in trees when the trees disappear because of deforestation is hard. Luckily, my family and I are in a protected area now but I worry too much damage has been done. Did you know at one time we were considered extinct? Then someone found a few of us that remained and here we are.”
“What’s that? You like my fur. Thank you, but unfortunately so did many humans. That is another reason why we are almost extinct. People hunt us for our unique red belly and white front legs. I am hoping we can make a come back and be removed off the endangered species list.”
“Oh my dear, don’t cry. I feel more sorry for the female humans than I do for us. We are animals, but you are humans. I have seen some bad things from up in my tree. Things I would never want done to any of my species. I have also seen hope and grace.”
“I have seen young girls sell themselves to make money. I have seen women kidnapped and forced to marry men they don’t know. I have seen children born into the most terrible situations. I have seen many women crying and at the edge of desperation. They don’t know what I know but I am going to tell you. It’s something that has been told for thousands of years but not all are allowed to hear it.”
“How did I hear of this great news? One day I was foraging for fruit and this woman saw me. She said hello and I said hello back. She said her name was Missy and she was from this place called The United States. I told her my name is Adewemimo, which means the crown washed me clean. Missy said that was a beautiful name and started to tell me about this man named Jesus.”
“I wasn’t for sure I wanted to know since it was about a man and the only thing I knew about man was no good. They nearly killed all my kind and I have seen how they treat human women as possessions but I listened anyway.”
“This man wasn’t like any man I had known. Missy told me how compassionate and loving this man was. How much he loved me and everyone, especially you. She told me how gentle he was and how he died for us. His death covered our sins, washed them white as snow. ”
“Hey, I told her that’s like my name. The crown washed me clean. I really liked that.”
“I asked her why she was here in Nigeria. She told me about this place her and her husband, John, started called Grace Gardens.”
At Grace Gardens the women are taught about God’s love and how valued they are. They are taught that they are not worthless and that they are loved so much by God. They are taught how God sent his son Jesus to die for us. That he forgives us for all our mistakes and sins and that they are not their past. They are treasured and are the daughter of the King.
(image credit David Bowman)
“I was mesmerized. I wanted to know more about this man. He was not like any other man I had known. Missy would visit me often and tell me more. When she wasn’t with me I would go to Grace Gardens and check it out myself. I was amazed at the difference in these women’s lives. The women I saw not too long ago in despair were now smiling and laughing. They were learning how to read and write and were being taught vocational skills. They were given advice and prayed for.”
“Unfortunately, not all women stay. Some leave because they do not think they can overcome the way they live. They can’t comprehend how much Jesus loves them.”
“Their situation, like mine and many other animals like us that are endangered , can be changed. Mine can be changed if people stop hunting us and see the value we have to the environment. If they give us a chance to live, we can rebound our population.”
“The women’s lives can be changed If they can learn about Jesus and believe in Jesus and his love for them and that they are a daughter of the King. If they give Jesus a chance and welcome him into their hearts they can see how valuable they are.”
“They can not do that if there are not people like Missy and John and their children that share the love of Jesus with these women. Missionaries are needed around the world. They need your help.”
“Will you help me spread the word about these women who are in need of God’s love? There are women like this all over the world, not just here in Nigeria. Will you help donate to Grace Gardens so they can purchase a bigger safe house for women to stay. The need is great and they want to accept everyone that comes to them.”
“Thank you for visiting me. Thank you for helping and remember God loves you.”
On your knees, your prayers, He hears, that I never doubt
Know someone cares
Daughter, I pray no matter what you go through tonight
You’ll remember the scars Jesus bears so you know there is a light
When the bruises are gone and the scars remain
Daughter I want you to know that He knows your name
He knows your name, He knows your name, He knows your name
October is officially domestic violence month but we don’t hear about it. All we hear in October is breast cancer, a worthy cause to fight also and one that needs to be fought daily as well. We don’t see any football teams wearing purple. It simply isn’t talked about. Domestic violence is something we need to look at every day, because every day someone you know is the victim of it. One in three women, one in four men are victims. One of of every fifteen children are exposed to domestic violence and 90% of these children witness domestic violence a year. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in the United States. Domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.
These are reported. Most domestic violence incidents are NEVER reported. Speak up, speak out, and make a difference for victims of domestic violence. The time is now to change these facts.
Silenced my Mersi Stone –
Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus –
Alyssa Lies by Jason Michael Carroll –
The Door by JJ Essen –
Leaving You Behind by Emii –
Lies and Bruises by Ryan Daniel –
Luka by Suzanne Vega –
No More by Kuzie James –
Voices Carry by Til Tuesday –
Broken Girl by Matthew West –
Beautiful by MercyMe –
God’s Daughter by Son of Adam –
I Believe You Domestic Abuse and Faith Community –
I have four daughters and two grand-daughters. I have tried to get the words together about women and self-esteem and about being loved and accepted by God but I can’t seem to get out what I want to say. I did remember reading something a long time ago on Facebook and I couldn’t recall where I saw it. I looked on Boundless and Proverbs 31 but nothing. I searched and searched and just when I was about to give up, my wife had a Facebook memory come up two days ago and guess what was on it? The thing I was looking for that she had shared so now I know what the site is and where to look. Yes, it is amazing how God works. Just when I was about to give up my search, there it was. Anyway, it is called the Loop and I think every woman should read their posts just to know who they are in God.
Here it is:
You are Beautiful
My daughter, you are the one I made. You are the one I crafted. You are the one I adorn with garlands, with beauty I see, with beauty that sweeps Me off my feet.
I love you.
I love you.
And there is not guilt and cost and expectation in it. I love you because I do. You can’t alter it. You can’t change Me. You are what I have made, and I love what I have made.
Look up now, not down. I mean this:
I love you.
How you are.
There is nothing to chase down, my love. There is nothing to earn or improve or repair. I create. I heal what I have made. Let me lean in, place my hand upon your heart.
I was there when you believed, for the first time, you weren’t beautiful. I was there, the second time, and the next time, too. I want you to know, I was there.
I was there when my daughter, whom I crafted, whom I adore, whom I formed and designed and shape ever still, believed she was less than what she should be. Less perfect, less valued, less worthy than. . . Less than whom? Less than what, my daughter?
You are beautiful because I made you. You are exquisite because I shaped you. You are worthy because I say so. I chose you. I chose to make you.
And daughter, I don’t make mistakes.
My love, hold my hand. See how I extend it to you, and I love to be with you.
My beautiful one.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).