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Question on Quora:

If you could give one piece of advice, that you knew would be followed, to a new teenager, what would it be?

My answer:

A2A. And my answer is going to ruffle a lot of feathers, but since it was requested, I’m going to give it regardless.

My one piece of advice: Start developing a relationship with your Creator. Now.

If you already believe in God, great! Develop a vibrant prayer life, including asking every day to be filled with and guided by God’s spirit.

Otherwise, just say, “Okay, God, this crazy woman on Quora says you’re real and that I should somehow get into a relationship with you. I’m going to go ahead and start praying every day, but I sure wish you’d show me that You’re real.”

If you have faith no bigger than a mustard seed, God will answer that prayer. I don’t know how or when, but He will. He loves you; more than that, likes you, and wants you to know that He is on your side and wants to help you to live the best life you can.

Every morning, ask God to fill you with His Spirit and to guide you throughout the day. Several times a day, talk to Him. Thank Him for something good that happened. Ask for wisdom about every life-impacting decision. Tell Him off when you’re mad. He won’t get mad back, I promise. 😉 Ask Him for things that you need. Pray for other people who need help.

And begin to learn to listen for His quiet voice inside. Sometimes, it’s a thought that pops into your head that you know isn’t yours, that sounds like it’s coming from a loving father. Sometimes, it’s a gut feeling, a strong inner knowing, about something (or somebody). Sometimes, it’s a growing conviction over time; that is, you more and more strongly believe that a certain direction is the right way for you to go. Sometimes, it’s something somebody says to you, or something you read, and it clicks with you deep down inside.

Don’t force hearing God. If it happens, it happens. Just keep your spirit in tune as much as you can.

Why is this my single piece of advice? Because when you have a relationship with the Creator of the universe, you have access to all His knowledge and wisdom.

It doesn’t mean that you will never have any troubles. It doesn’t mean that God will tell you the future. Your faith will be built by the hard things in life. But it will mean that you will have God leading and guiding you. This can keep you from doing things that might cause you heartbreak or trouble down the line. And it will help you discover changes you need to make in your life. Your future path will be clearer.

Finally, when you accept God into your life and work on building a relationship with Him, it’s a lot easier to love the unlovable, and to struggle through and over obstacles because you have His strength and peace.

All the best to you. 🙂

 

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The Glories Of Looking Young

Question on Quora:

I’m starting college soon, I don’t feel like I look old enough to be going, I’m 16 and about 5’4 but I look about 13. Is this normal?

My answer:

I’m barely 5′3. When I was 22 and was substitute teaching at a school I’d never been before, a belligerent sixth grader demanded to see my driver’s license because he didn’t believe that I was old enough to teach.

My first year of full-time teaching, four related incidents happened. I overheard a sixth grader ask a teacher if I was a teacher or a student (I was walking by myself down the hall at the time). At a PTA meeting, a disgruntled parent (not a parent of any of my students) was crabbing about all the things wrong with the school, and mentioned “a teacher who looks like a kid” (me; I wasn’t at the meeting, a colleague told me about it later). That summer, I was working in my classroom. I was the only teacher there. At one point, the custodian told me that one of the contract workers approached him with concern, telling him he thought one of the kids was roaming around the school.

You guessed it. Me again.

When I was 34, my then-fiancee and I were out to eat a restaurant, and the waiter (who couldn’t have been more than 20 years old) called him a “young man” and me a “young lady.” Amused, I asked him how old he thought we were. His best guess was early 20’s.

About five, six years ago, I was trying to purchase small canisters of propane for the small stove we had. The kid – ahem, I mean, young man – carded me.

He. Carded. Me.

Me.

He was at least mildly surprised when he saw my DOB.

Last summer, just to make myself feel good, I asked a college student who was working a cave tour how old she thought I was. She guessed maybe 32?

She about fell on the floor when I told her I was 47.

Looking much younger than my age has been normal for me all my life.

It may frustrate you now, but trust me – one day you’ll get a kick out making people’s jaws drop open.

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“Help! I Can’t See The Future!”

Question on Quora:

Why can’t I see myself anywhere in the future? I feel lost and everything is so blurry.

My answer:

You can’t see yourself there because you’re not there yet.

Believe me, I’m nearly 49 years old, and I now laugh at the idea of five-year plans. Life never goes so smoothly that anyone can write out a five-year plan and, five years later, see their life going exactly as they wrote it out five years ago.

Instead, I like to have a general idea of how to improve my life, and create goals around that idea. It’s a flexible, low-stress kind of planning.

The lost feeling could come from one of four places: there are so many choices, they paralyze you; you’re depressed; you don’t know yourself well; you’re living in the past and future instead of the present.

If it’s depression, please click here to read my blog post about it.

If it’s the choice issue, decide on just a handful of choices that really matter to you and ignore the rest.

If it’s not knowing yourself well, sit down and write out your interests, favorite non-fiction book titles, things that make you joyful, things that make you angry. Then, take an online enneagram test. You’ll know yourself a lot better after all that, and you’ll feel less lost and more capable of deciding where to go from here.

If you’re not living in the present, well, start to do so. Discipline yourself to look around you each moment and notice the blessings you have, as well as the opportunities that present themselves to you, things you can do to make the world a better place (even if just your home or neighborhood).

Taking one small positive step in the present eventually leads to a good future. Without you having to stare at it in the face every day and worry over what it’s going to look like.

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How To Know If You’re On The Right Path

How do you know if you’re on the right path in life? If it feels wrong, is it wrong? Could God be trying to tell you something?

Question on Quora:

How do I know if I’m on the right path? I’m going to school for one thing and I keep getting set backs. I’m wondering if this is God’s way of saying you’re on the wrong path, you need to go in a different direction. How do I know?

My answer:

Two things.

First, what is your gut feeling? If you have no peace inside, if you’re constantly hitting brick walls and frustration, then it may indeed be God trying to steer you in another direction. I actually encountered that myself during the past couple of years, and for a nearly 49 y.o. person, I thought it took me WAAY too long to figure it out.

Second, one of the best statements I’ve heard about the voice of God is, “The voice of God is a growing conviction over time.” In other words, if, over a period of days, weeks, or months (depending on the situation), your belief in something (conviction) grows increasingly stronger, that is God communicating with you the way He wants you to go.

Those things said, in this world we will have tribulation. No doubt about it, no exceptions.

Everyone who goes after a big goal will encounter obstacles and setbacks. The difference is, a person usually has a strong conviction or passion about their goal and so is motivated to struggle through those setbacks, not give up on what they want.

If you have an obvious gut feeling that you’ve chosen the wrong path, and/or a growing conviction over time about it, I’d say it’s time to hit your knees and wrestle with God for a while. Ask Him to help sort out if you’re just experiencing the normal struggling, or if He does indeed have another better path for you.

In addition, consider tagging along with someone who is working in the career that you’re going to school for, maybe for a week or so. Ask them to tell you the pros and cons of their job. Often, a career we think will be fulfilling actually brings a lot more stress and headache than meets the layman’s eyes. What this professional reveals to you may validate your gut feeling/growing conviction, making you more sure of whether you should make a change.

My answer speaks specifically about sorting out the choices involved in a higher education. But there are a lot of different times in life when we have to make choices, and the ideas above will help whenever you need to figure out if you’re on the right path.

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Teenagers, Would You Please RELAX?!

Question on Quora:

I’m 13, turning 14 in January. I don’t know what I want to be or what I like. What do I do?

My answer:

Be you.

Society has a nasty – and freedom-stealing – habit of equating career/job with who you are.

Who you are has little to do with how you end up making a livelihood. Who you are will lead you in a certain direction, but where you end up in the workforce will not define you.

You will change. Throughout your life. Every decade, you will look back and be amazed at how much you’ve changed in the past ten years. That’s as it should be, because if we ever stop growing that means we’re dying.

Still, there is a core you. A you that has many years of development ahead.

I’m 49. What I want “to be when I grow up” looks very different than what it was at age 20. And at age sixty, I know I’ll be looking back and thinking, “Wow, have I changed that much in ten years?”

So, what do you do first? Be you. Explore what that means. What books interest, even excite you, when you start flipping through them at the library (fiction and non-fiction)? What YouTube channels do you watch, and why? Those kinds of things give you a hint at the stuff you’re made of.

What do you do second? Explore, try new things, have fun. Ask your parents to take you to as many cultural events and places (arts and crafts shows, plays, museums, etc.) as possible so you can be exposed to different things. That’s how you figure out what you like.

PS – Did I say to have fun? Have. Fun. For goodness’ sake, enjoy this time of freedom and no major responsibilities. You never had it so good.

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