When I was a little girl I absolutely loved that verse. I must have heard someone say it over the microphone while watching an old man snoring in the pew of a church my neighbor had brought me to. Or maybe I heard it when watching Joyce Meyer on TV. Or in that Bible club that sent cool activities to my house every month for me to do. The funny thing is, my parents didn’t go to church. I mean, my mom had just gotten saved and she found a church that she loved. But I lived with my dad and he could care less. As a little girl something intrigued me about God, I knew He loved me, and I loved Him too; but beyond that I didn’t understand much. One thing I did understand was that I loved that Bible verse. I loved it because it spoke to me. It told me that I shouldn’t allow people to look down on me because I was young. It told me that even those I was young, I could do big things. It told me that being young meant nothing and in no way should stop me from anything. I didn’t even really understand the verse, but it empowered me as a little girl.
I started school when I was four, so I was always the youngest in my class. I was the second youngest in my graduating class at school – by two weeks. I went to college at seventeen and I didn’t even have my license. My practicum focus in school was Children’s Ministry and the Children’s Pastor used to always joke about me not having my license and being so young. I was the baby in my apartment; all my roommates were older than me. When I later got hired on as part of the Children’s Ministry it was an ongoing joke. My boss bought me a Birthday card that said, “It’s not every day you turn seventeen.” I didn’t mind the joke. I thought it was funny too. I knew I was the baby everywhere. What made it even funnier is I look like a High School kid. Most little kids think I go to school with their older siblings. I remember being asked numerous time while substitute teaching at an elementary school if I knew such and such kid’s older brother and sister. Didn’t they know I couldn’t be teaching them if I was still in High School? Apparently not. But really, the joke didn’t bother me one bit. Often times I was told that for someone so young, I had a lot of wisdom. I have been through a lot in life that caused me to grow up pretty fast, so I have always known I have been pretty mature for my age. I guess that made it easier for the joke to carry on – I was young, but don’t let that fool you!
But then I realized something. That “always seventeen” joke was starting to define me. It wasn’t that I hated the joke; I still think it’s funny to this day. But hearing it so much started to hold me in bondage. In my mind, I was still seventeen. I started realizing that my age was holding me back. At times I would even forget I wasn’t seventeen anymore. When I pictured myself all I could see is the seventeen year old me, and what could little seventeen year old me do? I was put in a position of leading people who were old enough to be my mom, how could little seventeen year old me be an effective leader over someone who should be leading me? I was allowing myself to be bound by fear constantly seeing myself as seventeen. I was looking down on myself because I was so young. I found myself thinking, “What makes me think they are going to listen to me, I am so young.” At times it caused me to lead timidly instead of stand confidently that God had placed me in that position, at that age, because He determined I was ready. I remember in one of my yearly evaluations my boss even said something along the lines of, I know I always give you a hard time about always being seventeen. I know your young, but I have you in this position for a reason. You just need to have confidence in who you are and stand in that confidence. Don’t let your age hold you back and cause you to be timid.
I remember leaving that meeting realizing how true that statement is. Then I thought back to how much I loved that verse as a little girl, even though I didn’t even understand what I meant I had chose that verse to be mine. I immediately realized that it was God, years ago, setting me up for these moments I would face in life. God was already speaking those words into me because He knew that one day I would hold myself back because of my age. I have continued to do everything at a young age. Graduated at seventeen; engaged at eighteen, married at nineteen, pregnant at twenty-one, a mom by twenty-two, leading a ministry with my husband at twenty-two – and to many people that is incredibly young to reach those milestones in life. Sometimes it sounds even too young to me!
But then I think back to that verse. I think back to that verse and find confidence in who God has called me to be and where He has positioned me in this season of life and I stand in that. I step out of “seventeen year old me” and step into “God equips me” and I find confidence to do what God has called me to be and be who He has destined me to be.