Dear Young Person,
I want to share with you 3 ideas that will make your life easier. This is going to be very practical information. These 3 things might seem superficial, trite and even old fashioned; and that’s probably what I would have said when I was 14. But, if you follow them, you will avoid a lot of misery. It may look like following these 3 ideas will cost you a lot of fun, maybe even some friends, but that is only an optical illusion (a trick your eyes help to play on your mind). I tell you these 3 things, not to deprive you of friendship and fun, but so you can have the happiest, best life possible.
1. Listen to your dad. He is not an idiot. He is not a moldy old has been who doesn’t understand the “real world”. He is not a fun sucker, nor is he someone who wants you to have a boring, drab, unexciting, unfulfilling adolescence. He simply has experience; he has been where you are now. He has been through all the things you are going through. And, he has come out the other end, maybe with some bumps, bruises, regrets and setbacks. If you will listen to him, you won’t have to suffer the same humiliations and failures he did. His mistakes and his hindsight can be a guide to you. Think of him as a safari guide, or Himalayan Sherpa, sent to lead you along a treacherous and dangerous path. He knows what to watch out for. He knows what to avoid. He knows you, and he can be a compass for you, when things seem murky and unknowable.
Ask your dad for help, as often as possible. He loves you.
2. Your peers are dangerous. I’m sorry, Young Person, but you are in the Lion’s Den. Welcome to high school. I’m sure you have friends, a social circle, and potential romantic interests, who may not fully line up with your values. That’s fine. That’s the real world. But, how do you maintain your values, while accepting and befriending those who don’t? This can be a real dilemma. Almost certainly you will compromise what’s right for the sake of “not making waves” or being tolerant. I accept that you will eventually do this, are doing it, and have probably done it many times before. When I said your “peers are dangerous”, this is what I mean: As a young person, it often seems like , the worst thing that can happen to you is to be “uncool”. I know, because I felt the same way. I would do almost whatever it took to look cool, impress girls, and be friends with the in crowd. The pressure is immense. Being cool or popular or accepted shapes almost every decision you will make. It affects who you talk to and how you talk to them. It probably even affects what brand name and type of clothes you like. It affects your interests; these are the things you pour your life into. You will pour your life into being cool. That’s why your peers are dangerous, because you have given them authority to determine your value. Only Jesus should have that authority. Only He can wield that authority with perfect wisdom and absolute benevolence. Reject being cool, it’s an illusion anyway. Instead, make Jesus your object of primary importance.
I want to challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone to create at least 2 best friends, who desperately love Jesus. It is the only way forward.
3. The choices you make now are critical. I hate to be the harbinger of dark tidings, but you have come upon the most critical years of your life. Doing well academically, physically, and intellectually now, will set you up for your entire life. Imagine a snowball rolling downhill. As it picks up more snow, and more speed, it becomes more dangerous and more difficult to turn. This is where you are now. You have grown up enough to take responsibility for certain things, like school, hygiene, social circles, maybe even a job. The direction you point your life, your “snowball”, will determine much of your future. I have known kids who were slackers in high school, maybe they even took drugs, turn out OK. But, they had to double the hard work as an adult, just to catch up with the kids who put in the effort while still young. So, take pride in your school work. It isn’t something to be looked at as teacher imposed slavery. It is to be looked at as opportunity to grow, a chance to shine above your peers, and a way to give God glory by pouring your excellence into it. When you practice for your sport, try not to look at warms ups, calisthenics, or drills, as boring stuff to get through so you can get to the games. Look at them as the necessary preparations for battle. Every drill, every lap, every pushup needs to be full bore, hardcore, %100 steam, because, submitting to discipline makes you a master. Your coaches will notice. Employers will notice. Your peers will notice. Guess who else sees it when you put %100 into even the little things. That’s right, God takes notice, too. Everything you want to be the best at requires discipline. Discipline is hard work. The lazy seldom amount to anything admirable.
The most disciplined becomes the most excellent. So, start getting real serious about your life. Play time is over. You aren’t just a kid anymore.
The bible says that in Christ, you are more than a conqueror. The world is yours to conquer for Christ. Take it. Blessings in the Lord, and may He always make His face to shine upon you.