What Teenagers Do With Their Pain: TToT: Finding the Good

What Teens Do With Their Pain Today I introduce you to one of the loves of my life, Sammy. If you were to meet her, you would quickly recognize her compassionate smile and her stunning ability to look glamorous in her thrift store finds. You would see a beautiful young woman, with a light that glimmers of love, but you will also see the shadows of simmering pain. You would sense sweetness about her and feel the tension of her grip on trying to hold her life together, amidst the mess that it is.

Sammy was born to a father that would soon abandon her, and a mother who suffered through a tumultuous life, suffering from a debilitating disease and countless struggles. Sammy has spent her life living in poverty, caring for her mother, and trying to survive the constant pressures of both. After 17 years of living this captive life of longing for healing, justice and answered prayers, she staggers through the darkness with that flickering light of faith and fortitude like no other. Sammy and I have been friends for years, long before I began leading the teen ministry at my church. She is incredibly intelligent and hard working, kind and respectful, insightful and mature, and creative and gifted. I have yet to meet another teenager who has the strength and the stamina that Sammy has.


After years of stifling the pain and burying the wounds inflicted on her precious soul, the brokenness within is pouring out. When you stuff those countless overwhelming emotions down for years and years of attempting to navigate a life full of constant unpredictable uncertainties, a life stuck in hopelessness and helplessness and loss… the damage must be evident somewhere. A person can only take so much…

This year she has spiraled into anorexia, bulimia and self-injuring to mask the pain, escape the madness, and grasp control of the broken pieces that are whirling out of control within her battered heart. She has been grappling with old scars and freshly formed wounds that she simply cannot bear. The weight of it all is pulling her farther down… into the prison of herself.

Sammy has been spending time with me, and we have had some amazing talks, she and I. The last time she stayed with us, I sent her home with homework. Not the usual mathematics and reading… but the tough stuff… going ‘there’. Bless her tormented heart! She came back this week with the homework finished! I was so proud of her… when I checked in to see how she was doing with it, she replied: “It’s the hardest homework I have ever had.”

I know babe. I know.

When we were planning her recent visit, I asked if she had finished her homework. She was able to do most of it, but shared that the last question stumped her. Oh, sweet Sammy! Don’t ya know I will give you a fresh new challenge with that?

The question was this:
What are five good elements in your life?


And so it begins.

We spent the day talking about her homework answers, and sifting through more of the muck. She hadn’t had a good week, and we needed to come up with more of a game plan for those dreaded moments of despair and her inability to escape. I helped her begin to think deeper about the good elements in HER and consequently in her life. She caught on quickly, that girl’s a hell of a student. I told her to come up with TEN instead of FIVE. (You saw that coming, didn’t you?)


Video tape saying them OUT LOUD to the WORLD as her testimony!

Bless her sweet soul.

She did it.  She found her voice.  She needs so desperately to be heard…

Take her into your heart, my friends. Take her into your prayers. Take her life, her pain, and her circumstances and pour out your love, encouragement, advice and hope for a broken and bruised girl- with an UNBEATABLE heart. It’s my privilege and honor to share her with you. Oh, how I pray she believes His Promise:

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Believe it, sweet love. Believe it.

Ten Things of Thankful


Author Signature


  1. says

    Chris, I am left speechless at this wonderful way you put the TToT into action and sharing Sammy here with all of us today was absolutely perfect and amazing. I have said it countless times before, but you are such an truly lovely and wonderful person and cannot thank you enough for just being you and doing all you do for everyone always. And huge thank you to Sammy, too, for sharing with us her story and putting herself out there today. She is a treasure and thankful to get to know her better here today. 🙂

    • Sammy says

      Isn’t Chris the bomb!!! Without her I don’t know how long it would take me to recognize all of things I’m thankful for in my short 17 years of life.

  2. says

    Ahhh Sammy, if you have Chris on your side, you are blessed indeed – she’ll see you right.

    I am WITH YOU on you having a voice which should be heard. Good for you! It sounds like you’ve already understood how your suffering puts you in a position to have compassion and empathy with others who struggle – just think of the encouragement your example could be. This is powerful, soul-deep stuff right here!

    And with regard to you having a bright future – YES YOU DO! Go out there and get it 🙂 With Chris in your corner, cheering you on, and always being a safe haven for you, I don’t see how you can fail. In fact, I’d say you can’t – because even things which look like failures have silver linings, and even the most car-crashed person can find a way to bring joy and encouragement to others.

    Bless you and your perseverance, Sammy. Keep going.

    (Kitty – I LOVE what you’re doing with this!)

    • Sammy says

      Lizzi you have left me with such happiness and hope. Chris really does have all the right things to say in any moment. It’s taken a while but it’s becoming much easier to understand my own story in hopes of helping others.

  3. says

    Sammy, many people would have just listed ten tangible things that they are thankful for. You listed wonderful and unique things about yourself, things that should be celebrated. In under a minute, you conveyed so much hope and strength – your future is certainly bright. Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Sammy says

      Thank you for your kind words Dana. Oh how much I would have loved to make a list of nothing but tangibles, but I have a feeling Chris knew what I was capable of completing my TToT with… apparently she was right.

  4. Emily says

    Sammy, I am so thankful for you! You are a beautiful woman of God and I am humbled by you! You have a sweet sweet spirit! Thank you for blessing my life! And thank you chris for your wisdom knowledge and grace! Love you both soooooo much ! Hugs! Emily

    • Sammy says

      Its very encouraging to hear your thoughts. You are the one blessing my life by your comment in ways you wouldn’t imagine! A hug right back at ya:)

  5. says


    You are an inspiration to all of us! You are just amazing and brilliant!

    As hard as life is, you found the positive in all your struggles. Look back at your childhood and think of all the things you’ve learned from it. We’re all praying for you and very proud of you for having the faith and the will to continue on and into making your life the best. You’re in great hands with Chris. She rocks!

    Lots of hugs and kisses 🙂

    • Sammy says

      Thank you so very much for your prayers!:) It’s much easier to see the light in the whole situation with Chris in my corner.

  6. says

    I love that Jeremiah verse. I remember a college roommate of mine had that posted on the wall.
    What a blessing you are to your community, Chris. I didn’t know you were the teen ministry leader in your church or that you had formed such a beautiful relationship with this young woman. What a wonder you are! How thankful I am that there is a Chris Carter in this world!

    • says

      It’s such an encouraging verse!! Thank you so much for your precious encouragement my friend!!! The honor is all mine, to invest in and walk with such amazing souls like Sammy. 🙂

  7. says

    Oh – what an incredible 10 Things of Thankful from a truly amazing girl!!! I love that Sammy shared her list with all of us – sometimes hearing how thankful someone is even after enduring numerous struggles is the wake-up call that we need!!!

  8. says

    Sammy, that was without a doubt the best ten things I will have the pleasure of hearing this week.
    Having Chris in your corner is without a doubt a bonus point in your favor but it sounds to me like you are a very intelligent girl with a bright future indeed.
    I am here to tell you that I have fought my share of demons in my lifetime and they only win if you let them. I know you have struggles BUT you have faith and you have strength. This video is a testament to that. For you to go through the toughest battles and still be able to make a list like that….it speaks volumes about your spirit!
    Your beautiful heart shines through and I hope you keep making these lists and never stop believing that every single thing on them is true.
    Thank you for sharing this with us today!

    • Sammy says

      Fortunately Chris is helping me come to the realization of my elements of good that I seem to lose track of. I will definitely try to keep believing everything on this list and hopefully more.:)

  9. says

    Praying for Sammy tonight! Sammy, you are beautiful, inside & out…trust the Lord to heal you completely from all the pains of yesterday..you are loved 🙂

    • Sammy says

      You have just put a smile on my face. Which not everyone can do. I am greatful for your kind thoughts and comment!

  10. says

    Sammy. First, great job with your ten things of thankful.
    As a former teen who struggled REALLYHARD with so much of life (my mom had an affair with my brother’s hockey coach and left us and I had to ask my dad to buy tampons for me and decided not to because it was too embarrassing and well, you can imagine how that ended up — and ALL of it — I GET IT. More than I will say here but feel free to have Chris give you my IM and IM me).

    Second, and I hope this comes out the right way because Chris is amazing and a great beloved blog friend of mine – please YES LEARN FROM HER but also?

    Know that your own doubts and struggles are yours and important. As in, it’s okay to wonder where God was during some of this. It’s okay to wonder.

    Your list is perfect and beautiful and important and I love love love it.

    But I want you to know that as somebody who has lived a similar pain, that it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling OUTSIDE of reading your brave, brave, brave list.

    If you have doubts about what you’re saying, that’s OK and NORMAL and HUMAN and forgiven and forgiven and UNDERSTOOD.

    Maybe not by you right now, because let’s face it – your age rightnow is a hard one, and it’s not going to change over night – but it’s understood, celebrated, loved and forgiven and will, someday, not matter.

    Hugs and hearts and the world’s biggest brave award to you for recording this. And to Chris, for knowing the importance of having you do so. xoxoxo

    • Sammy says

      You as well as others are confirming to me the hope in my future Chris sees. It’s very helpful to know so many strong woman like you and Chris, all have endured an ‘adventurous’ lifetime and become such inspirational and strong woman.

  11. says

    Sammy, God has such amazing plans for you. Know this, sweet girl. Understand how much He loves you and that He will carry you through the hard stuff….the tough things, the harshness that this life tends to dish out. Don’t allow the Enemy to destroy you with negative thoughts and poor thinking. Let the knowledge of who you are In Christ carry you. Because He loves you…always, unconditionally, and just the way you are. Stay strong, be brave, and bask in His light.


  12. says

    Great job! Life can be so confusing and complicated during the late teens/early 20s. Try to hang on to your list of thankfuls. You have a lot going for you and life does get easier! My own theory on difficulties in life is that we are allowed to experience hard things so that we can be in a better position to understand and help others who go through similar things in the future.

    • Sammy says

      You’ve definitely got the confusing and complicated part right! I certainly look forward to the times when things get a little less confusing and complicated.

  13. says

    The teenage years are difficult enough without the kind of struggles that you are having, Sammy. And even though I know it doesn’t seem like it, once they are over, and you are older, they will be like a blip in your life. They don’t define you and once you have moved on into your own independent life, the difficulties will be like a scar that’s there, but YOU make the choice as to it’s importance. Chris is a good person to have in your corner. I have no doubt in my mind that you are going to shine and all that you have gone through is going to be simply one small chapter in your journey to greatness.

    • Sammy says

      Totally having trouble with seeing the bigger picture, but it is really nice to know that this really is not the big picture. Thank you so very much!:)

  14. says

    I listened to your ten things. So good to remember them. I am going to have my daughter, who has struggled too, do the same homework. I can see you are a strong girl with lots of love to give. The Lord has big plans for you!

    • Sammy says

      I most definitely recommend having children and adults listing their TToT! I am so greatful Chris recommended me to do it as part of my homework.

  15. says

    I’m so glad you found the courage to share your thoughts and have a good friend to support you, Sammy. God has a plan and directly in the middle of it. May he bless and hold you as you walk it.

  16. Tammy says

    Wow. Just wow. Sammy, I hope, when you’re down or struggling, that you can think back to these moments when you so eloquently voiced the many good things in your life. YOU are one of my faves girl ; ). And it is a blessing to witness you grow and become the woman you are becoming. You challenge and encourage me in so many ways.

    • Sammy says

      Tammy you have just put me to tears. I have looked up to you since as far back as I can remember. You are one of the many woman who has kept me strong when I felt my weakest in faith. You have blessed my life in ways I don’t think you’ll ever know.

  17. says

    Nice to meet you.
    Thank you for your kind comment in my blog, Chris.
    Thank you for sharing a BEAUTIFUL video, Sammy.
    I am praying with you right now, from the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
    Blessings to you.

  18. says

    Hi Chris! I love it too. What a story, and what a beautiful part of her smile you are. ‘My fashion sense.’ You go girl!!

    How wonderful it must be to be a part of someone’s progress. God bless you both on your continued journeys.

  19. Sandy Garrett says

    Chris and Sammy thank you for sharing! For those of you that don’t know Sammy she is an awesome young lady! Love to you both!

  20. says

    So inspiring! What an amazing young women and thank you so much for introducing her into our lives: it’s an awesome privilege to meet her.
    And from one little girl abandoned by a father to another, who also had her own spirals and trials and FALL DOWN ON MY FACE so many times…. when the enemy starts throwing all those mistakes you made in your face; JUST AS you are trying to draw nearer to the Heavenly Father that will NEVER abandon you — and those lies he spits in your ear start piling up and threaten to bury you in a pit of what you think is your own wretchedness and worthlessness…. Just Know: sometimes mistakes don’t say ANYTHING about WHO you are. They are just mistakes you made. Also, there is a HUGE difference between being unworthy; and being worthless. You are totally worthy to receive the Love That Covers Over from Him. Much love and His richest blessings to you!

    • Sammy says

      You have just given me exactly what I needed to read! I will try to keep reminding myself what you have and others have told me:) thank you so much:)

  21. says

    Awww…just like my friend Chris to be a blessing to others! I so LOVE that about you girl!! And I so MISS being back over here at your place! I should be back to blogging in August. 🙂

    Sammy! You’re such an inspiration! I love it when young people can recognize the hand of God on their lives! And do know, you’re the APPLE of God’s eye and in Him your future is soooo bright! I’m looking forward to hearing awesome updates about you through Chris! May you have an absolutely WONDERFUL life young lady! Blessings!

  22. says

    What a precious gift you are, Sammy! I have three adopted children and one was much older when we adopted her. Her pain encompassed our family and threatened to drown us. Her story doesn’t have a happy ending with us, but I pray that wherever she is God is writing a new one. We still have her two younger siblings and have walked them through incredible pain and heartache. Your story gives me hope that they will choose the One who loves them.

    Thanks for sharing, Christine!

    • Sammy says

      I’m deeply sorry to hear that outcome for your eldest daughter. I’m sure the two younger siblings will be lead where they are meant to be with you and the one who will always love them at their side:)

  23. says

    Sammy (one of my all-time fave girl names, btw), when I see your (beautiful, brave) video, I see myself, and so many of my friends who went through similar struggles at your age. They aren’t easy struggles at any age, but in the teen years? God. Awful.

    You have the most incredible gift one could ever have. You have Chris. You have someone in your corner helping you fight for yourself. That’s literally priceless.

    Game. Changing.

    These things that are happening to you….let them make you stronger. Empathetic. Let them give you the gift of perspective.

    But don’t let them define you or tear you down. I’m sure Chris will make sure that doesn’t happen. She already is.

    Sweet girl, you’re amazing. Don’t ever forget it. 🙂

    • Sammy says

      You have given me hope and encouragement which I’m very thankful for:) Chris is one of the greatest women I could ever have in my life. I’m sure you and many others could agree:)

  24. says

    What a doll! What an inspiration! WOW!

    Love this verse. It is shaded in Kay’s bible boldly & brightly.

    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    Chris, loved hearing your voice! xx

  25. says

    Sammy, I think you might be starting to see this, but it’s evident that you have a host of people who are on your side and cheering you on, even if they’ve never met you before. More importantly, you have an amazing God who is on your side and cheering you on.

    Know that you are precious.

  26. says

    Sammy, you are darling! Life has dealt you much worse things than I have ever had to deal with, yet you were able to come up with a fantastic list of things of thankful. Don’t let the world beat you down. You punch it back the way you’ve been doing. And never be afraid to ask for help; you just made a whole bunch of new friends with this gutsy post who will want to be there if you need them.

  27. Derek says

    Sammy I consider you one of the family. I know you have not had the male role model in life and hopefully when visiting I can help you out. I promise I will not bore you like I did last time you came over talking about managing finances as you become an adult. You are an awesome girl and I am so glad you are in our life.

    • Sammy says

      You are one of the best male figures I’ve been blessed to have in my life:) those conversation aren’t *that* boring

  28. says

    Dear Sammy,

    This list? Oh. My.Word. It is encouraging and inspiring. To be thankful for the struggles? That is so true because that is when God will grow you because you are relying on Him. But it is still hard. Girl, you have a God given wisdom that is beautiful to see!

    And I love that you are thankful for music! My daughter loves to sing and I am going to show her this list and I know it will inspire her just like it has me. You are chosen by God and you are called beautiful and His beloved!

    Thank you for sharing your story with us so that we may reflect on His glory! The angels are smiling because of this wonderful thanking for His gifts!

    I am so glad that Sweet Christine is in your life! And I am thankful that you are in hers! I will pray that you may encourage each other to know the love of Jesus more and more every day!

    Blessings and Hugs,

  29. says

    Sammy, just remember that you won’t be “here” forever. The here and now? It’s part of your whole life journey. And yes. The struggles you have now truly are providing you with your strength. You’ve done great things already and you wil do many more great things and achieve fabulous things in your lifetime due to this strength. And I’m so glad you have a release with your music. Rely on that release as much as possible. Just know we are all rooting for you. xo

  30. says

    Sammy, that took courage and I am so impressed by your bravery. I am also astounded that someone your age can add her struggles to the list and be thankful for them because you realize they have made you into the person – the amazing, beautiful person – you are. I can only imagine what life is like for you, but it is evident that you are an amazing girl and you will do big things in life for sure.

    Chris is also an amazing person, so you are lucky to have her in your life. Listen to her and trust her. She will not lead you astray!

    Prayers for you for continued strength and peace!

  31. says

    What a strong, courageous, beautiful person you are, Sammy. The teen years are hard enough as it is but to come through them with a strong faith and foundation makes you ahead of the game. It’s not easy but with the support you have in Chris (and all of us), you are going to make it. I will keep you in my prayers and look forward to hearing how you are doing from time to time. God Bless.

  32. says

    Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get the video to play, but I can see from all of the comments above that Sammy is a special person. Sammy, you deserve it. You are a daughter of the Almighty King. You are royalty.

  33. says

    Sammy, you are a beautiful, intelligent and special person. And more so with Chris in your life. Stay strong, stay courageous and know that you are a gift to everyone whose path you cross.

  34. says

    Oh, what a beautiful and brave girl. I just love her. And how wonderful to have someone like yourself to pour into her beautiful soul.

    These exercises and homework that you are doing now, Sammy, will benefit you greatly in the years to come. Take these lessons you are learning to heart. These lessons and the love of Jesus will lead you to the life you were created to live.

  35. Cindy says

    Had a daughter that was diagnosed with OCD/depression/anxiety disorder at 14 1/2. The next summer she started with scratching to hurt herself. High school years were very tough, she was in a small Christian school and didn’t fit in with the small group of girls who were “in”. Spent her first semester at a small college just out of state, didn’t work out. Changed to a college about 30 min. from home, still tough times. More tough times seem to follow her through college but an amazing young man who is now her husband hung in there with her. Today, she is 25, been married for a little over a year, has graduated with a major & minor from college. Medication, a wonderful Christian counselor who walked with both of us through it, and maturity have all helped. The scratching may happen only about once a year now but time & the love of someone to walk her through will help!

    • says

      Sammy is an amazing soul, Nannette. I am honored God brought her into my life! I cannot wait to see how God blesses her faithful steps in her journey. She will undoubtedly do good things. Thank you so much for sharing in her beautiful testimony to gratitude!!

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