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Empassioned

A Teenage Christian who is Looking to turn Passion into Action

Month

July 2014

#TheAdorableOriginalSquirrels

I hereby admit that I have been a hypocrite.

That last sentence rhymed. Heehee. Anyway…

That’s right, open confessions on this blog. A month ago, I was a hypocrite.

You must be able to tell that I am very passionate about the limitations our culture imposes on kids and youth. After all, this blog is all about tearing down that irritating standard. Yet, I am guilty of assuming that kids have no interest in important things.

You see, a month ago, I was planning out a Bible study lesson plan for my church’s two week summer camp. We had already decided as a team of councilors that we were going to scrap the original lesson plan because it was too watered down. Of course, I was all gung-ho about giving the councilors my society-oppression-children-rock speech: “You know, this is ridiculous! Kids are capable of so much more than this lesson plan is allowing. At this age [I was planning the fifth and sixth grade Bible study], they’re ready to digest some really serious stuff. We need to give the campers a Bible study that will really challenge them to reevaluate their relationships with God!” Blah blah blah blah yuckety-yuck yuck.

So, we started from the ground up. I was going to plan out their new Bible study, aiming to make it challenging yet still interactive.

Camp started, and I was very nervous on our first day. I mean, thank God, I knew all but one of my group members pretty well. As we got to know each other a little better during the first Bible study session, we chose our group name as we decorated our “get-to-know-me” profiles. In the end, we settled on #TheAdorableOriginalSquirrels…yep, that’s what we went with. Some wanted the Originals, and some wanted the Squirrels. I suppose this was the compromise! It still makes me laugh.

While we were chatting that first day, I was attempting to see who I was working with. Would they open up to me or shut down all together? After all, confronting them with the topic of salvation and the importance of a two-way relationship with God was pretty intense for them to digest, right? Looking back, I think making that assumption was my first mistake.

Thankfully, I felt like the first week went alright. Not stellar, but alright. They answered my questions when I looked them in the eye, and participated in the activities when I handed them paper and glue sticks. Still, I left the small school we rented for camp slightly dejected. I wasn’t getting the outward spark I had hoped for. I guessed that since I couldn’t SEE a drastic change in their faces, there was none. Strike two on my part.

It was the second week that blew my mind. The following Monday, we used what we had talked about in week one and put it into application by doing a practice Quiet Time. Using  what I call the “quiet time formula” and a guide to Bible reading, we dispersed throughout our classroom. The passage we all read was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, commonly called the Love Chapter. I asked periodically who needed more time to read their Bible and meditate, and every single time, hands went up. I had concluded the night before they would be done as soon as they could be, with as little effort as possible. After half an hour, we needed to move on, and I had to ask two kids to finish their Bible reflections at home.

As we gathered around the desks, I peeked at their papers. I was shocked to see that every single person had completely filled up their pages with their thoughts, and handwriting was spilling outside the lines and onto the margins. As we talked about how they felt when reading the passage, the things coming out of their mouths shocked me even more. The wisdom and insight they got from a very common passage was incredible. They spoke about loving their enemies even though it was hard, and how God’s love and justice would never give up on them. These were thoughts I assumed to be well beyond their years.

This trend continued throughout the rest of the week at camp. Every day, I walked out of our classroom floored by my own ignorance. I had come to camp with a fistful of paper, ready to convince them that they needed Jesus. But they already knew that. These fifth and sixth grade preteens were so ready to soak up knowledge and to speak their minds. I just didn’t give them the opportunity, then assumed they weren’t ready. It showed me that with all of my talk about empowering young minds, I had a lot to learn. God showed me that He has bigger plans for my Squirrels than anyone could imagine.

On the last day of camp, I received a text from a friend who’s younger sibling was in #TheAdorableOriginalSquirrels. As I read it, my jaw dropped, followed by a huge smile that spread across my face. “Thank you guys so much for all your work on the Bible study! [Name] was just telling me how happy he was with the Bible study, and he said it helped him a lot in his relationship with God!”

I will once again say, shame on me. I interpreted quiet listening as a lack of depth or willingness to speak. I wanted to teach, but it was my new friends who taught me. That sounds cliche, I know. How VERY cheesy! I mean it though, really. I pray that God will open my eyes when I see someone younger than me. I hope that next year, I come to camp with an open heart, ready to learn.

Next year, I’m leaving my fistful of papers at home.

Empassioned: The blend between empowerment and passion

“Empassioned is not a word. It actually is spelled impassioned. With an ‘i’.” 

If you looked at the name of this website and thought that, I pass no judgement. I too would have been irritated or confused by a clear misspelling of the word. However, there’s a method to this madness.

You see, as I was trying to come up with a jazzy and original name for this little blog, I was stumped by the balance I needed: creative, but not cheesy. Things like marina’scornucopiaofknowledge.com kept rolling off of my tongue….I wanted to punch myself in the face! Why is it so hard to think of a catchy name that doesn’t sound like it’s trying too hard to be cool? 

“Okay, Marina. Calm down. All you wanted was a place to let your thoughts out honestly. Stop trying to be fantastic and take the attention off of the bells and whistles. What do you want to say to the world?” 

I asked myself that fair question. After all, I could have the coolest sounding name in history, but if I was publishing nonsense with no substance, what was the point? There are many other creative people with creative sounding blogs. I want to do something else.

Here is what I have to bring to the table: the idea that God has placed passions inside of us. Be it a passion for social justice, music, changing society’s view of adolescents, or anything else  on God’s green Earth! God planted certain interests and needs inside of us that He wants us to use for His glory. Every single God-given passion in every single person is important and must be taken seriously. Personally, I am tired of seeing beautiful ideas blossoming inside of my peers that are only  shut down by their own minds or outside forces. 

“Maybe when you’re older.” 

“Yes, great idea! Let’s have [insert the name of someone four times your age] take care of that.” 

“It might be difficult for you to do that at this time. You don’t yet have the life experiences necessary to get it done.”

Now, at the risk of sounding like an angry teenager needing to rant (Okay, that’s exactly what I just did, but I’m coming to my point), I must say I understand that not all of my ideas are stellar and need to be put in place. I can respect the answer “No”. What I’m talking about is not when  something stupid or inappropriate is asked for. Nuh-uh, I mean when an idea is a good idea. Then, the good idea is automatically dismissed because the person suggesting it is younger than age. 

The theme I want to set aflame among my community is this: it doesn’t matter how old you are. You could be nine or seventy-seven. God has empowered YOU as His child, and He wants YOU to set His ideas into motion. Your passions may turn into thoughts, as mine often have. The mistake I always make is thinking, “Meh, I’ll do it another time.” There’s also “Yea, it’s a good idea, but who would take me seriously? I’m at the bottom of the food chain.” I feel God calling me to take it a step further and turn my ideas into ACTION. 

My friend, that is the point of this blog. Blending the passions in my heart with the empowerment God has given me as His daughter. I don’t have my purpose all figured out. I don’t even know what I’m going to study in university, man! Yet, God keeps bringing to light this one flame that flares up inside of me: He has given me (and YOU) power to do great things, and I don’t want to waste that opportunity anymore.  

In Luke 10:19, God says: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” [KJV, emphasis added.] That’s a pretty clear statement, and it comforted me as I typed it out just now. There’s also the famous Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [NKJV]  Lastly, a convincing personal fave of mine, 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” [NLT]

As we go through this journey together, you and me, I hope we can keep each other accountable. The time for pushing ideas aside because we’re young is over. Have you heard the saying “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”? Well, it’s all over Facebook if you haven’t seen it before. To me, it means that I need to respond to God’s calling first, and He’ll help me along the way. I believe that God will reward my obedience, and therefore qualify me so I can obey.

So, will you take the plunge with me? I’m pretty scared. After all, when I press the “publish” button, the whole world will be able to tell me to put my money where my mouth is! Maybe we can do it as a team, one step at a time. 

Here goes step one. ANNNNNNNNND, publish! 

I am not wise…yet.

I have no great wisdom to be shared, and I’m finding out minute by minute what I have to say, just as you are. Therefore, I think full disclosure is only fair: I’m using this blog as a way for God to mold me into someone. This is not a place for me to share a great revelation I’ve had or anything like that. I haven’t done anything impressive to change the world, but I WANT to!

I’m just a typical sort of teenage girl: I play guitar and sing, I have lots of opinions that I should sometimes keep to myself, and I struggle with winging out my eyeliner every single day. Now, I don’t intend to tell the world my life story in blog post numero uno, but I’m attempting to set the scene: normality.

Starting up a blog was nibbling at the back of my mind for several months, but I finally did it on a whim. Waking up two days ago, it was clear to me that THIS was the day I would take a step of faith onto the internet, hoping that God would use my big mouth to start something big. Who knows? We could truly do something here. I feel as though the tables are turning.

Perhaps a community of young people with a dream for change can rise up together on this small corner of cyberspace and learn how to turn passion into action.  I hope and pray that we can do this together, internet. Welcome to the beginning of the beginning. 

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