Authored by Mara Hodler
As a teenager you will make decisions that could alter your life. There are always decisions to make in regard to friendships, relationships, school, and hobbies that can affect your future either positively or negatively. But there are other decisions that I’m thinking about that have to do with drugs, drinking, and partying.
It seems that at least once a week I hear about some sad thing that a young person did to themselves or to someone else. Either they got drunk and caused an accident, or got drunk at a party and hurt themselves or someone else, or perhaps they mimicked some awful thing they saw on TV or in a computer game.
One foolish decision can alter the course of your future and affect you negatively. But the reality is that temptation is all around.
One of the most important things a young person can learn is how to say “no” and how to resist temptation. Temptation is a pretty tricky thing. You might know in your mind and heart that a certain activity is not right or good for you, but in the moment it can still seem like a fun or pleasurable or harmless thing to do.
There’s a verse where Paul is talking to a young person called Timothy, who was like an adopted son to him. He says: “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”1
I remember hearing this verse as a teen and thinking that it sounded kind of … boring. Where was the fun of being young if I spent all my time running away from “youthful lusts?” But I’m not talking about living a pious life. I’m talking about avoiding the kind of situations and activities that are harmful to us emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and instead hanging out with people who want to make good choices and enjoy the good things in life.
It’s a funny thing, though; if you aren’t rehearsed in your “nos,” you might be unwittingly cornered into a “yes.” So it helps to take some time to think in advance about what you would say in certain situations. For example, if someone offers you alcohol, what’s your response going to be? What if they offer you drugs?
One kid I heard of came up with the response, “I’m allergic to alcohol. Totally blows!” But you can think of the response that you are most comfortable with. Have it ready, because you will most likely need it!
There will probably be times where, if you’re not careful, you will end up in situations that you are uncomfortable with. It’s very important to know how to gracefully duck out of these situations. It can be as simple as “I’m not comfortable with this!” Whatever response you choose, it’s important that you know how you will respond in that situation.
We have fire drills, we are taught to dial 911 in an emergency, and we are encouraged to study the safety guidelines before we fly on an airplane. We do this so that we already have a response ready should any of these dangerous situations occur. It’s not to prevent fun; it’s to prevent disaster.
It can help to have a list in your head of a few things that you will not do. Then you know that if or when you get into these situations, you will put your answers into words and protect yourself. Here are some examples of situations that should be avoided:
* Getting into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking or a driver that you know will text while driving
* Being at an event where there is unsupervised consumption of alcohol (only parental supervision in your own home counts)
* Taking drugs or using any substance in a way that it was not intended for
* Participating in activities that exclude or bully others
* Participating in illegal activities
* Sex when you are not ready
Maybe you can think of a few other things that you can add to the list. The point is not to push all the fun out of your life, but to pursue the type of fun and relationships that will give you the happiest and most satisfying life possible. This is where the second portion of 2 Timothy 2:22 comes in: “Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Find friends who have the same principles you do, who want to have the good kind of fun—the kind of fun that you don’t spend the rest of your life regretting. Choose relationships that promote the values that you find important.
Your parents will be some of your best allies in creating the right kind of environment for you to thrive. You will find that nine times out of ten they have your very best interests at heart and not only want you to be safe and wise, but also want you to have fun and enjoy life. Their experience and wisdom can help you navigate the tricky things you face in your friendships.
Remember, the time will come when you are able to drink, have sex, drive, and even smoke if you so choose (though my set of principles drive me to implore you not to do the latter), so make the choices that will define your future and take responsibility for them. If you are wise, you will wait until you are of age and are confident in your ability to keep yourself safe.
In the meantime, learn how to make virgin piña coladas, get into sports, find your BFFs, discover your favorite authors, learn to cook, watch old movies, dance the night away, volunteer, grow in your relationship with God, find a mentor, graduate from high school, have a crush or two, choose a profession, find your personal style, paint your room a crazy color, write a journal, adopt a pet, get a summer job, grow a garden, learn a foreign language, cultivate a hobby, find a pen pal, and most importantly live a full, safe, beautiful, happy life.
1 12 Timothy 2:22 NAS
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International