An Open Letter to my Teens…Your Choices Matter

Love, love, love Dana’s words to her kids. She never fails to bless me in her wisdom and discernment as she navigates a very important DoAhead…godly parenting!


Dear Kiddos,

It isn’t always easy, is it…to make the choices we make? As your parents we say no to things. And you obey.

But I know that the things we say no to and the things you choose to say no to get harder once you’re outside our doors. Once you are out in the world or among your friends.

I get it.

Your cheeks burn as they laugh…at you. Your eyes sting as they dismiss you.

You feel left out when they giggle about a scene in the movie we said “no” to. You feel excluded when they sing that song we always turn off.

They say you’re missing out. Relax, have a little fun—for once.

And it hurts the most when “they” aren’t the unbelievers. When “they” are your Christian brothers and sisters.

As you grow, there will be some who accuse you of legalism.

Some will pity you, claiming you have no understanding of the grace of God.

Some will get mad and assume you are judging them.

And you will be tempted to believe them. Sometimes… you will believe them.

You’ll question yourself. And I’m sure you will wonder: Does it matter?

Does it matter…the effort you go to, to guard your mind and heart? To discern what is true, honorable, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

He says it does. The Bible is saturated with exhortations to hold to the good, to follow God’s way, to separate yourself from the world by what you do and don’t do

“Trust in the Lord and do good…” Psalm 37:3

“Turn away from evil and do good…” Psalm 34:14

Each of those exhortations are followed by promises of abundance, joy, life, and eternal consequence.

It matters how we live.

It matters that we reject those things that we know aren’t pleasing…no matter who else is doing them.

But what about grace, you might ask. It’s got us covered, right? And people may point out: you’ve been freed from the law. You are no longer bound by its rules.

Yes. We are freed from the law. We are freed to live in Christ. To reflect Christ. To become more like Him.

That’s what it’s all about. C.S. Lewis got it. I love how he illustrates the impact of our choices in Mere Christianity:

…every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself…Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

It’s called sanctification. It’s the pursuit of holiness.

Our lives, as Christ followers, should be a constant pursuit of holiness. It’s an ongoing process, never achieved in this life. But continually pursued and enacted within us by the Holy Spirit.

And in that pursuit, you will grow weary. You will mess up. Sometimes, you will even consciously rebel and choose wrongly. I have. I do.

That, my loves, is where we look to grace. That is where the beauty of God’s grace sweeps in and quite literally saves us.

God’s grace exonerates us of sin, but it was never meant to excuse us to sin.

You see, God’s grace covers our sins when we fail, but it doesn’t stop there.

God’s grace changes us.

Never satisfied to leave us where we are, how we are, in the condition we are—God’s grace works in us and transforms us.

And His grace was not cheap. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the Cost of Discipleship, described grace like this:

“Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

He gave us His best…His all. When we begin to understand that, how can we respond with anything less than our best for Him?

We have been set apart.

Just remember kids:

  • Our morals aren’t a checklist to earn righteousness.
  • Our morals are a response to our salvation.

The standards by which we live aren’t a requirement for our salvation. But they are most certainly a reflection of our redemption.

So yes. It does matter how you live…one choice at a time.

Right now, you are called upon to obey your parents. It’s that simple. But someday, not that far away, all of the decisions will be yours. You will no longer answer to us. Nor will you sit under our judgment.

The decisions will be yours. And each one will grow you either more into harmony with God…or at war with Him. There’s really no middle ground.

Thank God for His grace. May you live out of response to it.

Your DoAhead Mama,


About Dana Boyd

Dana is a lifelong lover of words with a passion for sharing stories of the heart—both her own and others. Her writings draw from her experiences as a woman, a writer, a wife, a mother of three, and a Bible-believing Jesus follower. She is a defender of truth, an avid proponent of common sense and a recovering (often relapsing) perfectionist still learning to lean in to grace. Her writing is an honest outpouring of her introverted heart, driven by a longing to inspire others to feel deeply, think critically and act compassionately. Dana shares her words as a monthly contributor at DoAhead Woman.

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