Despite all the fireworks and happy status updates, we’re all aware that a new year brings new problems. There’s going to be a lot of challenges and tears. No year is easier than the last, especially when you’re a teenager and not quite sure of your place in the world. Many of us are anxious about how we’re going to face these new chapters, and whether we’ll get a happy ending after all. (Spoiler: We all get a happy ending.)
I made a list of pointers to keep myself going this year as a Catholic, a teenager, and a flawed human being. I tried keeping them simple and so easy to follow, you’ll find each burden easier to bear than you expected. There’s no particular order for them, so feel free to memorize as you see fit.
There’s no such thing as a coincidence. The way God arranges things, every trial in your life clicks with another like a big giant puzzle—and the harder it becomes, the more you grow. Struggling to put two and two together? Good, because it means you’re becoming more experienced, and looking back you will be grateful for the challenge. It means God trusted you with this important part of His plan and, someday, you’ll see the aftermath. He gives His hardest trials to His strongest soldiers—so march through it with joy, because He won’t abandon you.
We cannot save everyone, because I know as well as you how hard it is to watch people you love suffer but to be unable to reach through and pull them to safety. We’re going to see our closest friends and family go through trials as well, and half the time their own tears hurt a lot more than ours. Only God can save people, and though He is likely using you as a vessel to do this, it’s all in His control. Our responsibility is to love somebody—we must listen to their problems, provide them a shoulder to cry on.
You see, our commandment is to love others as He loves us—and come on, that can be hard, too. Others includes people we don’t necessarily like. So never sit down and exclaim, “There’s nothing I can do!” There is, too, and it’s a responsibility: Love them, hold them, comfort them. You’ll be surprised how much it helps.
Everything has beauty in it. I mean everything. When you learn to seek out the beauty in everything that happens to you during your life, it’s easier to get through because God is in the beauty. He’s in tiny phrases from a book or a gentle gust of wind. Every situation is going to have that anchor for your soul, and this beauty will save you. It can even be that tear sliding down your cheek, or the helpers coming to a tragedy, or the silence after a fight. Look for the beauty and there you’ll find God. Acknowledging this beauty is prayer when you cannot find words.
Your opinion counts. There’s nothing I’m more passionate about than getting people to speak up. When there’s no beauty, your thoughts could be the means by which God will find His way into a crisis. Your silence could have greater consequences than you thought. When you speak, though, if you let the Holy Spirit guide you, the words you say can turn things around. We’re commanded to preach the gospel and be children of light. Doing so should bring no shame. If you’re afraid to speak up, this fear is easily overcome through prayer and research. Don’t be silent—you could save a life and change the world by saying yes or no.
You can’t do it alone. The Christian life wasn’t meant to be lived alone, nor can it be—you need Jesus, obviously. But for the spiritually dry moments we are bound to have, friends and family are necessary. When things become confusing or hard, when temptation is about to win out or you just lose hope, there’s safety and strength in numbers. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help and don’t be scared to give it. Soldiers in a group can bring down a lot of demons.
I hope these guidelines come in useful to you. I’m sure we’re all going to need them at some point. I hope you have a blessed new year and don’t waste a minute of it! Before we realize what’s happened, it’ll be gone again!