** This reflection was reposted from Diocean Archives.**

I had a lot of crazy things to bemoan during my teenage years. Most were embarrassing or even downright stupid, such as: smoking, swearing, skipping school, driving too fast, bullying the poor boy that sat in front of me in math class. The world meant everything; I wanted my peers to embrace me as I worked toward acquiring the latest and greatest material things. It feels as if my entire teenage years were spent trying to fit into some specific group or place.

While perhaps these activities are typical at that age, they were still dangerous, absolutely awful, and in the end, downright sinful.  Yet, I didn’t care; I suffered from an earthly, misguided tunnel-vision.  I worried only about what I could see, without a thought beyond this realm or of the eternal consequences of my behavior. Leaving it all behind to follow Jesus never entered my mind; that life seemed dull and hollow—if it was even real.

In my teens, I longed for what was below. I cared what other people thought of me. I sought acceptance and approval from my peers, whatever the cost. It was an incredibly egocentric period, yet ironically a time filled with uncertainty and insecurity. 

My dreams included marrying someone rich but also being rich and famous myself. I read Cosmo and Tiger Beat magazines and strived to look as model-like as possible and judged and scorned those who did not. At parties, I sought the most popular people to impress and joined the ridicule of those not in that group. My validation of worth came from the world’s view, and being someone of significance in the eyes of family and friends, even strangers, enveloped my whole being.

I wish I could look back at my life and say these thoughts and behaviors remained a part of my immature teenage self, but alas, that is not so. Gossip, judging others, making poor choices to belong to a particular crowd would follow me throughout most of my life until I discovered the Truth. Joy came when I was finally willing to be last and strive toward heavenly rewards. 

Through Tradition and Scripture, I learned that there is more, much more, beyond this earthly dwelling place, and finally allowed what is above to matter more than this world. This renewing of my mind was not easy and came with many tears, regrets, and painful confessions. Yet, it was not impossible, and the freedom and hope I now feel striving not to belong to the world are by far more amazing than anything I attempted to attain here below.

As you think about your current state of life, can you say you are more concerned with the things of Heaven? Are you rooted in the things of earth? Could you leave them behind to follow Jesus?

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