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FOR TEENS

FRIENDSHIP ISSUES? PRAYER WORKS...

From the August 27, 2007 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


LAST YEAR AT MIDDLE SCHOOL, it felt as if I didn't have a good group of friends I fit in with. The friends I'd known since kindergarten were growing apart. Some of them were only focused on school-work, some were ignoring me, and some were making new friends.

At lunchtime, I would check out each table to try to find someone to sit with. Sometimes I would look at certain classmates and automatically decide I couldn't be their friend because they were so different from me—they just weren't the kind of person I would usually hang around with. This outlook caused me to focus on my classmates' flaws, rather than their good qualities. Feeling frustrated, I resigned myself to a lonely school year.

After our eighth-grade class came back from a big overnight trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, I was on the verge of tears. During the trip, I'd felt isolated and lonely, since the group I was assigned to was very cliquish.

Now, coming back to school, I felt more frustrated than ever. I talked to my mom about this issue several times, and even though she would share quotes from the Bible and Science and Health, I dismissed these ideas and kept on believing I'd never find anyone to be a great friend in my small school.

Whenever I went to Christian Science Sunday School, I would listen to the other students in my class talk about their experiences. One of my friends in Sunday School mentioned he'd experienced the same friendship issues that I was facing, and one day, he gave me some ideas on how to pray about the situation. My teacher and other classmates chimed in as well. It suddenly hit me that I'd spent months complaining and feeling lonely—while all along I'd had the option of taking action through prayer.

After that Sunday School class, I immediately started to pray. I remembered a healing I'd had when I was younger. A girl had been bullying me, and I went to my Sunday School teacher so she could help me pray about the situation. Together, we thought about all the good, Godlike qualities that this girl expressed. For example, she was very caring toward animals, and was also a great athlete and team player. Soon after I prayed about this, she stopped bullying me and was actually really nice.

I decided to use this same concept to pray about how I was seeing others at school. I started by thinking about God, as I'd learned to do in Sunday School. I thought about all the beautiful qualities that He has, and how each one of us can express those qualities and let them shine through us. God also never leads anyone astray—and that meant He could never lead me to a bad friendship. I knew He would direct me in the right path to find friends who had similar interests, and were trustworthy, kind, and fun to be around.

Whenever I felt as if my prayers weren't working, I stayed in tune with God, and kept listening for "angel thoughts"—or messages from God that were tailored to me. I knew that they could come at any moment. Mary Baker Eddy's poem "'Feed My Sheep,'" was helpful as I tried to listen for God's voice and follow wherever He led me. This poem is one I always turn to when I don't know where to go or what to do. The first verse is:

Shepherd, show me how to go
O'er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow,—
How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.

(Poems, p. 14)

As I continued to pray throughout that school year, I became more aware of the good qualities that the students in my grade expressed. I stopped looking around at lunchtime, waiting for someone to include me, and instead I sat down with different groups of people. By doing this, I was learning more about the classmates I hadn't really talked to before.

During this time, I saw all their Godlike qualities expressed in so many ways. When I realized that we all had the same Father-Mother God, who loves us all, this comforted me. And it helped me see that since we were all His children, it made sense to be friends with each other. I just hadn't been willing to accept that before.

WHENEVER I FELT AS IF MY PRAYERS WEREN'T WORKING, I STAYED IN TUNE WITH GOD, AND KEPT LISTENING FOR "ANGEL THOUGHTS"—OR MESSAGES FROM GOD THAT WERE TAILORED TO ME.

One day, I realized how my Spanish class partner and I were getting along really well. I decided to get to know her better, and since then, we've become really good friends. We have so much in common!

Though I still sometimes feel lonely, I think about the progress I made that school year, and then say a quick prayer. I usually recite the lyrics from a song that goes like this:

Thank you for this perfect day. Truth and Love point out the way. Calm and exalted each morning I pray.

Thank you for this perfect day. (Madora Mckenzie, "The Morning Round," Good for us! The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1978)

I'm learning that God is always leading me in the right path—just as this prayer says. God is Truth and Love, and He guides me every day. Praying about friendship helped me learn that I don't have to depend on other people to make me happy. God supplies everything I need. He really is my best friend—and when I reach out and express Him, the friends will always be there. | ♦

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Lauren Haden lives in Northern California and loves musical theater, singing, and tap dancing.

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