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Show Up for Your Life: What the Girl You'll Be Tomorrow Wants You to Know Today
by Chrystal Evans Hurst
Learn More | Meet Chrystal Evans Hurst
You Do You
Own your own story
I’d attended a Christian school through eighth grade, so ninth grade was the first year I attended public school. And all I wanted to do was fit in. In each class I’d notice the girls who hurried in to get a front row seat and the ones who beelined for the last row. I’d observe which ones might be new like me and which ones exchanged glances and notes like they’d known each other forever. I was searching for my tribe.
Within about a week I’d started eating lunch with a group of girls who had grown up together. They all bought pizza and fries from the school cafeteria, and I brought apples, yogurt, and my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. They all had boyfriends, and I was completely inexperienced in that department. Their language was pretty salty, and the worst words to ever pass my lips were “shut up.” Despite our differences, I wanted desperately to fit in.
One day I pulled out a chair at the end of the table, sat down, and unzipped my red lunchbox. The other girls were going off about some teacher they didn’t like. Jumping in like I was as streetwise as they were, I wanted them to know I thought that teacher was as horrible as they did.
“I know, right?” I agreed. “She’s a #%&*-ing #@*$ *!!”
The table fell silent as six pairs of eyes stared at me, shocked at the foul words that had just fallen out of my mouth. Honestly, I was as shocked as anyone.
Finally, one girl broke the silence.
“Girl, don’t even. You’re not doing it right. Just . . . don’t.”
I felt my face flush with warmth. I had been trying to be someone I wasn’t, and I’d been called out.
So, yeah, it was pretty embarrassing.
That hard lesson has had a lasting impact. Though she acted a little more disgusted than I thought she needed to, that girl was essentially saying: You do you. And believe me, I did. I was willing to work on and improve lots of things, but cursing wasn’t going to be one of them!
It was better to be me, than try to be someone else. And it is better to be you than to try to be someone else.
Not long after that, I started looking for a different group of friends to hang out with.
Part of the problem was that I felt self-conscious about being one of the “smart kids.” Nothing about “Principal’s Gold Star Honor Roll” says, “Here’s a cool kid you might want to hang with.” Because so many other students weren’t interested in achieving academically, I didn’t want to be labeled as the smart nerd.
Did I still want to achieve? Yeah, I did. But did I want to stand out among my peers? Nope. Not for being the geeky girl.
But by playing down my gifts and abilities, by failing to honor what made me unique, by trying to blend in with the crowd, I was denying who God had made me to be. I was choosing to sit in the backseat when I should have been gripping the steering wheel of my own life.
You know what it’s like to sit in the backseat of the driver’s ed car while another kid drives for the first time? When you’re not sure if you will live or die? The choices I was making to downplay who I really was should have scared me that much.
Being in control of your life really is like driving a car. Whether you’re thinking about signing up for driver’s ed right now, practicing driving around huge vacant parking lots with your mom, or if you’re already pretty confident behind the wheel, I want you to hear that God meant you to be the operator in the driver’s seat of your own life. Yes, ultimately, he’s in charge, but he’s given you this life—and it’s yours to choose how it goes.
Until now your parents have been doing a lot of the steering. They decided where you would live, what you would eat, what you would wear, where you’d attend school, and whether you’d attend church. But right now is the season when you are starting to slide into the driver’s seat of your own life. Increasingly, you’re going to be making more of those choices for yourself. And what I want you to hear is that you are the person who is ultimately responsible for who you will become.
If that sounds like a heavy load, I get it. I’ve walked in your shoes. And that’s exactly why I want to be in this with you. Think of me as that aunt who’s teaching you to drive on weekends. I want you to hear that this is your thing, that you’re the one behind the wheel, and I want to share with you some of the helpful tips and tools I’ve picked up along the way—and possibly point out the ditches, hairpin turns, drop-offs, and cliffs you’ll want to avoid.
If learning to drive is still ahead of you, and the thought of it freaks you out, let me say it another way: You are the author of your story and, with God’s help, you are responsible for becoming all you can be. And part of owning that story is not only writing what comes next, but it’s accepting and integrating what God has given to you and what’s already unfolded. If your parents weren’t married when you were born, that’s part of your story. If you were reading words off cereal boxes when you were three years old, that’s part of your story. If you were diagnosed with childhood cancer when you were five, that’s part of your story. If you started singing solos in the church choir at seven, that’s part of your story. Some of the pieces of your story are ones you would choose again in a heartbeat. Other parts of your story might be ones you wish had been different. In both cases, God has made the plans and he’s poised you to begin writing a beautiful story for the rest of your life once you own the chapters that have already been written.
When you take the time to pause and consider your story, you have the greatest ability to notice the pieces you’re working with, what you’ve learned from, what healing work needs to be done, and what choices you want to make to move forward. Denial or half-truths prohibit you from moving forward.
Owning your story is an act of strength.
And if you’re not where you want to be today, it doesn’t matter so much how you got there as much as it matters that you acknowledge that where you are is not where you want to be. You are the author . . . so own it.
Part of owning my story is owning that I’m a girl who has been raised in the church. I’m a preacher’s kid. I know the Bible, and I’ve had a personal relationship with God for most of my life. I have memorized a few Scriptures in my life, but to be honest, I’m super grateful for Google. Many times I know that certain words are in the Bible, but I don’t know exactly where to find them. But as a young girl my mother made sure I knew this verse in particular: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jer. 29:11). I grew up memorizing passages of Scripture that taught me my life could be abundantly full and overflowing (John 10:10 AMP).
I’ll give you more of the details later, but there was a moment when I woke up to the realize that my life had veered from the plotline of my expectations. The vision God had given me for my life didn’t match my actual life at all. And that’s when I had to choose to own my story and re-craft it into one in which I was being all that God had made me to be.
The fact that that was such a difficult season for me is one of the reasons I’m excited to be taking this journey with you. My prayer is that, by exposing some of the ways I lost who I really was, I can spare you some of the struggles I’ve stumbled through along the way.
As we take this trek together, I want to encourage you to be as honest as you can be. Moving forward begins with telling the truth, truth that God already knows but wants us to be honest about for the benefit of our own healing. “For He knows the secrets of the heart” (Ps. 44:21).
It takes courage to admit that
- You’ve experienced hurts you wouldn’t have chosen.
- You want something different for your life than what you’ve seen around you.
- You really don’t know what’s in your future.
- You may not know how to achieve the dreams in your heart.
I know what I’m talking about when I say that it takes Someone outside of ourselves to reset what’s broken, put back together what’s been fractured, give us a vision for a beautiful future, and give us the courage, determination, and tools to go after it.
What about your story?
Maybe you haven’t seen examples of a strong healthy marriage, but that’s something you want for your life.
Maybe you’re afraid you’re not good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or talented enough.
Maybe you’ve got your eye on a demanding career, but you also want to get married and raise children.
Maybe you’re afraid you don’t have what it takes to get where you want to be.
I get it. Believe me, I get it.
If I could sit down next to you when you are feeling these aches and pains and wonderings, I’d look at you and tell you the truth.
Your life does not have to be defined by the story you’ve lived thus far.
It is not limited by what you can and can’t see today.
God has beautiful plans for your life that you can discover over time.
Most of all, I want you to hear that you’ve got this. You can do this.
When I was just starting high school, I was hiding my light. I didn’t even know where the switch was to turn it on. You might be there too.
What’s most important is that you know it’s your responsibility to show up for your life. And as you learn more about who you are and about God’s good intentions for your life, you’re not only going to show up, but you’re also going to kill it.
Beloved, dare to trust that God’s desire is for you to live out a beautiful story He designed with you in mind.
Choose to own your story.
Tell the truth.
The good, the bad, and the ugly. Whatever happened, you survived. You are still here.
Own your story.
The girl you want to be is depending on you.
Reflections for the Rescue
Owning your story is an act of strength.
- Are you comfortable owning your story? Why or why not?
- Do you believe with all your heart that God has given you the power to create a beautiful story when you show up for your life?
- Are you willing to make the effort to discover and embrace the goodness God has for you?
Own your story. Over the next seven days, spend a few minutes each day writing down defining moments in your life’s story.
2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 15:1–2; John 8:32; Jeremiah 12:3; Psalm 139:1; Psalm 145:18
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