I know this title sounds really mean so just to clarify I don’t think all teenage girls are vapid. The thing that bothers me is that things geared toward teenage girls always strike me as particularly stupid and shallow. And while I confess I feel I should offer a blanket apology to anyone who knew me between the ages of 13 and 16, I still had a mind beneath all the angst and time spent obsessing over boys with friends.
To give a little background to my rant, I follow a particular person on some social media. She wrote a book about chastity that I read in college and I liked it so I liked the page. Simple enough. But sadly it may be time to unlike it because I am about at my limit with the stupid little memes she posts. Gems like the one below:
Really? That’s what you’re going with?
This is why atheists make fun of Christians, because even though I’m still on board with chastity this is one of the corniest things I’ve ever heard. Granted I’m pretty sassy and don’t enjoy trite life advice in general, but surely we can do better? I mean the quote above is what I imagine cheering for the Clevland Browns would be like, that moment where internally you mumble to yourself, “I want to root for you but wow it’s all so bad…” (I’m a lifelong Pittsburgh fan you knew I’d work it in eventually.)
But it was this experience that led me to wonder are all teenage girls that vapid? Are quotes like the one above really the best way to connect with young audiences? Is that strategy really the most effective one?
Because if so then it’s upsetting. Maybe I’m just so old now I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager but I never learned anything by being patronized. When I was spoken to by overly peppy people oversimplifying things that were quite deep and that I genuinely wanted to know more about I would disappointedly roll my eyes as it went in one ear and out the other.
My pride is truly something I work on and perhaps if I were more humble I would be more willing to look past the cheesiness and be happy about the underlying message that Christ’s love is transformative. But why water down the message of the transformative love of Christ in that way? It’s better than a workout? It’s better than a makeover? Those are external things and the love of Christ is something that begins internally and has the power to turn your life upside down and inside out. It has the power to make you a completely new creation, the person you have always wanted to be. The reason Christ’s love is transformative is because it is unconditional and full of mercy and being loved when you are unloveable and certainly don’t deserve it can create the strongest of foundations on which to stand if you’re open to it because it can set you free from a lot of things that once had power over you and give you the best friend you’ve ever had in your life.
So why aren’t we telling our teens this? Why aren’t we treating them like they can have a mature faith and do have the capacity to be faithful disciples of Christ? Why don’t we take a chance and treat them like they have deeper wants and needs than a fit body or a cute haircut? Who are they going to evangelize by sharing “Christ’s love is better than a makeover!” It certainly doesn’t work for me but is there a large demographic out there in the world being served by this message that I know nothing about?
I genuinely don’t know…
Because makeovers and workouts and diets are not bad things in and of themselves. But they are things that only affect one person: you. And if we insist on making our lives so self-centered then we can lose so much of the larger world Christ wants to share with us. And if we only are interested in Him so far as He can help us meet our goals and our needs on our timetables as if He were nothing more than a fad diet can we really say we love Him?
And I think teens and maybe even society in general would have much to gain if they stopped the 24 hour Kardashian news cycle and banned infomercials promising to fix chin fat (or whatever minor unimportant thing they want to make you feel self-conscious about so you spend your money) and remembered that there is more to life than a shallow vapid existence of looking pretty and being more successful than your neighbor, there’s life in Christ.
And speaking from personal experience life in Christ is something so transformative I credit it with not only saving my life but giving me a life so full I wanted it saved in the first place. Because it rescued me from the emptiness that used to plague me and replaced it with something so beautiful that I can’t find the words to adequately describe it. Nothing I say or write could ever do it justice.
Suffice it to say at the very least that it’s better and more long lasting than a makeover, more effective than a diet, and more satisfying than the best of workouts.