Being a teen has never been easy. But it seems that today, it’s more difficult than ever before. From the social pressure of creating “Instagrammable-moments” to the disappointment that comes when not enough “likes” roll in, today’s tech culture poses challenges unseen just a decade ago.
Amid this reality, speaker and best-selling author Chrystal Evans Hurst is encouraging young women to celebrate their unique, God-given identity and remember that they are loved, valued, and accepted by the Creator of the universe.
“From comparison to temptation, girls are constantly faced with challenges today,” Hurst told The Christian Post. “But we are creatures who are designed by God and uniquely made, and we need to own that instead of comparing ourselves to others. Understand that your personality will continue to develop and change, but that unique personality you have is God-given and it’s never too early to start pouring yourself into who God has designed you to be.”
Hurst, the oldest daughter of author and Pastor Tony Evans, recently released her new book, Show Up for Your Life: What the Girl You’ll Be Tomorrow Wants You to Know Today, along with a discussion guide for mothers and daughters.
As a mother of five — two of them girls — Hurst told CP that she wanted to share her own stories to identify for young women and teens, including the pitfalls that will inevitably come their way, distracting them from God’s plan for them.
“In some ways, this book is a forewarning,” she said. “It’s designed to say, ‘Here are the pitfalls, and here’s not only how you avoid them, but here’s the blessing that comes if you do, and here’s the love of God that will be there for you if you don’t.'”
“I’ve been where they are,” she continued. “I share stories from being a teen mom to faux pas to funny things I did all to say, ‘Here’s what I’ve learned from my experiences.’”
In her book, Hurst also shares practical ways readers can shift their focus from the small, everyday moments gone wrong to a forward-thinking mindset that celebrates the simple yet beautiful things in life.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in the little things when you’re a teenager,” she said. “But I want teen readers to realize their lives don’t start when they’re 25. You’ll see remnants of who you chose to be at 15.”
“The time to show up for your life is right now,” she added. “If you’re waiting until you’re an adult, you’re losing some of the best years of life.”
The teenage years, Hurst explained, is prime “seed-planting season.”
“You can plant seeds at any time, but the growth rate you have as a teen is astronomical because you’re not being pulled at by so many other things,” she emphasized. “If you can pour into who you are designed to be as a teenager, it changes when you become an adult. If you can seed the goodness of who God created you to be now, the exponential growth you get is ridiculous. You’ll be miles ahead of everyone else because you did the hard work early on.”
But teens can’t water seeds alone, Hurst clarified, adding that mothers need to come alongside their daughters, helping them become all God intended them to be while living a positive, impactful life.
“I added a discussion guide to my book to encourage mothers and daughters to read the book together,” she said. “The girls can water their own seeds, yes, but a lot of times, the watering comes from outside. Helping girls see beyond the right now and into the next season of life is the job of mothers, aunts, and mentors.”
And with all the pitfalls that come along with social media, parents need to teach young women how to have a “shut-off mechanism” when it comes to screens, Hurst contended.
“The difference between us as adults and our kids is we had lives outside of screens — even if we were TV watchers,” she said. “There just was not the inundation of screens that there are today; we have a ‘shut off mechanism’ that our kids can’t develop. Social media makes comparing yourself to others almost unavoidable.”
She encouraged parents to have “screen-free times” in their homes — illustrated by example.
“We can’t expect our kids to shut off their screens if we’re constantly on our phones or laptops,” she said. “Get off your laptop, turn off the TV, resist the urge to be on-screen all the time.”
Hurst advised families to do things together, such as taking after-dinner walks, reading aloud, serving together, or playing board games.
“When you say, shut down the screens, you’re not just giving them a ‘no,’ but a ‘yes,’ too,” she shared. “You’re giving them a life, and then when they become adults, they’ll have a picture of what it means to have a life. If you simply tell them ‘no’ but don’t show them alternatives, you’ll have kids addicted to screens. You need to show by example that it’s possible to have a life outside of technology.”
The speaker and author told CP she prays her book will encourage young women to embrace their God-given identity and remember that their worth isn't found in the amount of "likes" they get on social media.
"God made you unique for a reason," she said, "and don't apologize for that. Embrace the things God has put on your heart, whether it's music or art, whether you're an introvert and extrovert. Find your passions, and faithfully steward them to become the person God created you to be."
To order Show Up for Your Life: What the Girl You’ll Be Tomorrow Wants You to Know Today, click here.