Youths, Make Your Life Worth Living
YOUTHS, have you given thought to making your life worth living? What will you do with your life? What goals and plans do you have? Now is the time to think about this.
As a teen-ager, however, you may feel that opportunities to make decisions and to do what you want seem limited. It may even seem that restrictions are placed upon your ‘having a good time.’ Your parents may try to cultivate in you other interests besides engaging in various forms of recreation. Or, you may be eager to get married, but they may tell you that you are too young and immature for this.
Do you feel as though efforts are being made to curtail your opportunities and to hinder your enjoyment of life? There are often differences of opinion as to how youths can make life worth living.
YOUTH—A TIME FOR WHAT?
Youth obviously is a transition period in which one develops from a child into an adult. Those who have studied the matter say that we do not reach complete physical maturity until sometime between the ages of twenty and twenty-three. Emotional maturity may take even longer to achieve. So youth, basically, is a preparatory period, when the groundwork or foundation is being laid for the type of adult you will become. Your parents may recognize how various forms of physical recreation can help in your development and therefore allow time for you to enjoy these things. (1 Tim. 4:8) However, it is not play that will particularly prepare you for adult life, with its usual responsibilities of providing for a family. Rather, it is proper guidance and instruction in maintaining a home, and in feeding and caring for a family that does this.
So can you see why your parents may try to control your recreational activities? They want you to spend time in really worthwhile activities that will prepare you to handle adult privileges and responsibilities. Do you know what often happens when a person overconfidently tries to do something for which he is not prepared? He gets hurt. You, too, may seize an opportunity that you are not ready for and may get seriously hurt. How so?
READY FOR SEX AND MARRIAGE?
Youths commonly believe that, since they are physically capable of having sexual intercourse, and since it reportedly is ‘a lot of fun,’ this is something for them to do. But is it really? Is sex prior to marriage proper? Does it help to make life worth living?
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported this conclusion of a youth who had premarital sex relations with many misled girls: “I have learned that this did not bring me happiness.” Also, a tearful young co-ed said of such an experience: “It sure wasn’t worth it—it was no fun at the time, I’ve been worried ever since.”
Such worry often is justified. One health official says that gonorrhea threatens to infect 50 percent of U.S. teen-agers in just five years! Also, millions of unmarried girls become pregnant. Many of these have abortions; others are forced into unhappy marriages, and still others face a long, unhappy struggle to rear an illegitimate child. How wise the Bible’s command is: “Flee from fornication”!—1 Cor. 6:18.
Is it not clear that premarital sex relations are not a legitimate activity for youths? Such relations by unmarried persons amount to stealing that which does not belong to them, and will, if continued, bring God’s adverse judgment upon them. Do you want that?—Heb. 13:4.
Youths who love God may say, “No, I don’t want God’s displeasure.” So they may want to marry, viewing this as a legitimate opportunity open to them. But are you, as a teen-ager, really ready for marriage? Do you have a realistic view of what it costs to provide for a family? Have you paid your own bills, done your own shopping, handled insurance and taken care of other family matters? Are you ready to give up the freedom of singleness for the responsibilities of marriage? As a girl, do you know how to wash, iron, cook, clean the house, and to do the many other things that are so necessary to maintain a pleasant home? Are you emotionally ready to take on the obligations of a wife and a mother?
Furthermore, are you sure that the mate you have chosen in your youth will be the one that you will want when you are a fully developed person? This is something to consider seriously, especially in view of the report of one investigator that the divorce rate is six times as high in marriages where both spouses were under twenty-one as in marriages in which both spouses were twenty-one or over at the time of marriage.
In vital decisions of life you are wise to seek the counsel of your parents and other adults, and to heed their advice. This can protect you from taking a course that may lead to heartache. For, the fact is, youths have not changed essentially from when a seventeenth-century essayist made the sad observation: “The greatest part of mankind employ their first years to make their last miserable.” Does that sound like making life worth living?
However, by availing yourself of opportunities generally open to youths, you can avoid such miseries and learn to handle adult responsibilities. What are some of these opportunities?
USE OF TIME AND STRENGTH
Youths generally have two valuable assets—time and strength. You can waste them. Or you can use them wisely with a view to making life worth living.
For example, you have time to study, probably several hours a day being provided for this purpose in school. What a treasure this is! Ask adults. Most will tell you that they wish they had more fully appreciated this opportunity when they had it. While they cannot go back and live their life over, you can learn from their experience and heed their encouragement to use your time wisely.
Perhaps you can include various types of vocational courses in your school program, and thus be better equipped to care for the responsibilities that will come with maintaining a home and a family. Courses in agriculture, carpentry, mechanics, cooking, sewing, and so forth, have proved a real asset to many. Do not just put in time, but get all the benefit you can from the time you spend taking these courses.
However, you may feel that some required courses are not worth your effort. If so, why not talk the matter over with persons of more experience? They may give you insight, broadening your view as to the genuine value of such subjects as language, mathematics, history and various sciences. Remember, what you get out of your schooling will depend upon the time and strength you put into it.
NEED OF A GOAL
It is helpful if you have a set goal or purpose in life. Have you done so? What do you want out of life? Money? Material things? While they can provide a measure of protection, they rarely, if ever, in themselves bring real happiness. (Eccl. 7:12) Rather, it has proved true time and again, as the Bible says: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin.”—1 Tim. 6:9.
You need more of a goal in life than simply seeking to provide materially for yourself and the family you may hope to have. What else is necessary in order to make life meaningful and worth living?
YOUTH’S GREATEST OPPORTUNITY
You need to seize the greatest opportunity open to you, which is to develop a close relationship with your Creator, Jehovah God. The best counsel you could ever follow is that in the Bible addressed to youths: “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.” (Eccl. 12:1) Experience has proved that heeding this advice is what will bring you real happiness and give meaning to your life. But how can you remember your Creator?
God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to show us how. He explained that the identifying feature of a Christian’s life would be the love the Christian demonstrated. (John 13:35) But how is love shown? Is it not by doing things for others? Do you show love? Think about it.
What do you do for others? What can you do? You can take an interest in them. You can offer an encouraging word, a compliment. You can make a sincere inquiry regarding how they are, or volunteer to run errands for neighbors. There are really many things you can do. But it requires thought, a taking of genuine interest in others. However, if we grasp opportunities to show love we will begin to see the truth of Jesus’ words: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Such a course of life will result in a molding of your personality. You will be developing a life pattern that is in keeping with God’s admonition to keep an eye, “not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” (Phil. 2:4) And it is this Christian personality that will cause you to become precious to Jehovah God, and will also make you a desirable companion to all those who love God. This is what, particularly, will make your life successful, a real pleasure.
So, youths, exert yourselves to make your life worth living. Use your time and strength in study and activity that will prepare you for handling adult responsibilities. Set a goal in life. Best of all, make it your goal to gain a close, warm relationship with your Creator and with others who are serving Him. Work on developing your personality, conforming it to that of God’s Son Jesus Christ.
If you grasp these opportunities open to you, you will not be numbered among the many whose life has either been scarred or ruined by the foolish things they did in their youth. Rather, yours will be a life really worth living—a rich, rewarding life blessed by Jehovah.—Prov. 10:22.