If her teen years were an ocean, then Gia felt “adrift.” Years before our paths met and God wove the strands of our lives together, my friend Gia wrestled hard against her sin.
“Right as I was getting into my teen years was when I realized how depraved my sin nature actually was,” she said. And the sharp reality of her depravity became waves of depression that rocked her soul.
But today, Gia is one of the soundest nineteen-year-olds I know. No longer drifting on a spiritual sea, Christ’s grace has anchored her soul for eternity. And this grace is something she doesn’t want to squander.
Gia longs to live differently. She longs to act intentionally for God’s glory, as a young person saved from a sea of hopelessness.
Gia’s first encounter with what she calls “honest” Christianity engulfed her. From her perspective in isolation, grace was eclipsed by her gross sin.
“I had this feeling of floating out in the middle of nowhere and no one knew what I was going through. I didn’t want anyone knowing what I was going through because I had that constant mentality of ‘Nobody cares. I’m nothing.’”
But as she rooted herself deeper into a church body, things changed. Loneliness melted into companionship, and for the first time, Gia could “see the shoreline.” Her friends persistently interrupted her isolation. They introduced grace to her sin-swamped soul.
Today, intentional and Christian friendships are still crucial to Gia. She calls them friendships with “a dose of reality to [them]” because they’re friendships that orbit the Truth.
When Gia unlocked her heart to be truthful about sin, her friendships shifted from what she could get out of them, to what she truly needed. Gia needed to see the gospel’s truth that could sever the strands of her sin.
“If Satan can get you isolated and make you think you’re the only one going through something, you’re a lot easier to defeat. To me, Christ-centered relationships are honest… You pursue righteousness together, and not on your own.”
Freed from sin’s grip and passionate about Christ, Gia is now a young person asking, “How can I be a culture-changer?” She isn’t waiting until she’s older to impact a sinful world. She’s living intentionally now.
“How can I be a culture-changer?”
Gia is using her positions as a college student and behind the coffee shop counter to broadcast her faith. But first, she’s constructing purposeful relationships.
“Ministering to people and showing Christ’s love to people is 80% just being there,” Gia said. “There isn’t some formula for how to ‘talk Jesus’ to people, because everyone has a different heart. Everyone has a different way that they can be spoken to, to best receive the Truth.”
Gia wants to build foundational relationships off which she can launch into evangelism. Sometimes this means offering godly advice disguised as practical advice. It means being slow to speak in a world of hasty opinions. It means exiting her comfort zone to enter someone else’s.
“People will be able to tell that you authentically care for them,” she said. “Once they’re comfortable, that’s [a better] time to witness to them.”
And witnessing to wandering souls does take time. It takes intentional action and hours of sacrifice to pour Jesus’ love into the world’s hollow basin.
Instead of letting Christ’s grace propel her to live intentionally for him, Gia feels like she wasted hours of her teen years wallowing in sin. Grace didn’t excite her until she got over herself. But when she did, she started living differently.
“I feel like my later teen years have been like I took the care and the… love that people gave me and have gotten to give that to other people,” she said, smiling.
God redeems wasted time. He’s using Gia’s years of depression to help her empathize with similar teens today. And he’s teaching her that every moment can still count for eternity.
“The more conscious I’ve become of the fact that every breath that moves through my lungs is there only because God is sustaining me, then it all becomes more important not to waste that breath.”
Gia is proof that young people can live intentionally for Christ. Her life is solid evidence that the rip tide of sin can’t drown abundant grace. The tsunami of depression can’t tear Christian teenagers from the Rock of our salvation—Jesus Christ.
“If [other teens] put on that armor of God’s Word and prayer, and they use their time intentionally—then absolutely, by grace, they can do probably the hardest thing they can ever imagine. God can use anybody, any age.”
Find Gia Mesz online at her blog, Between the Paws.