To the 14 year-old Andrea:
When I turned 16 this month, it wasn't the food, or the party, or the long birthday messages that got stuck in my head. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for how my birthday went. But there was one phrase that got stuck in my head, one of my church friends said it:
"Uy, 16 ka na! Dating!"
I absolutely *hate* talking about dating. Not because I'm scared of it or anything, but because I've made so many mistakes in the past regarding dating that makes me feel terrible to talk about it. According to For the Strength of Youth, the suitable dating age is 16. And there's a very big difference between how the world percieves dating and how our church does. Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the important guidance Heavenly Father gave me through the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.
"But we're not *really* dating. He's not my boyfriend. We're just in a mutual understanding. I like him, he likes me." An overused line by yours truly. I rationalized my mistake and now I see the effects it made.
If I could go back in time and save you from all the heartbreaks and emotional trauma I've put you in, I swear, I would. I was actively going to church and attending activities, but I was disconnected. My peers had a bigger influence on me and I was pressured to enter a relationship because everybody was in one. After that, it was one after another. And now, looking back, I've went through so much at such a young age. I'll never be able to say that I'm glad I followed the church's standards in dating, because I didn't. But here's what I'll tell you, 14 year-old me, you're going to make a *lot* of mistakes and it is going to suck facing the consequences, but you'll learn from these mistakes. You'll forsake those mistakes that you did and you're going to change for the better. Trust me, I know it. =)
Heavenly Father knows you and He loves you. You are His beautiful daughter, regardless of what they all have to say. You are Jesus Christ's disciple. He is your Savior and Redeemer.