Several kids in our community have died from using the drug Ecstasy. This drug is popular at rave parties, which initially had more to do with music and dancing. For a short time while I was a teenager, I looked forward to drinking parties, but always felt let down after them. Alcohol never delivered what it promised. It didn't make me have more fun or feel more self-confident. And since then, I've learned that there are other ways to get the joy defined as ecstasy.
Obviously, lots of people are confused and feel voids in their lives that lead them to experiment with drugs. I've thought a lot about how this experimentation, which often leads to much greater problems, can be prevented. There must be better ways - legitimate and harmless ways - of filling these voids.
Here's an idea from the Bible: "Trust in the Lord, and do good .... Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Ps. 37:3, 4). To me, this means that doing good things makes you happy. And also that you can trust God to guide you to the things that give real satisfaction.
Sometimes it can be scary to trust God to guide you to happiness, because you're not sure you'll get what you want. But anyone can gain trust in God by understanding more about what God is. For one thing, God is infinitely intelligent and wise. He's your creator, and He has created you for a purpose. You can trust God to know your purpose and guide you in fulfilling it. The creator isn't going to waste your life. That wouldn't be intelligent. God's plan is absolutely the best one for you, because God is also Love. Because God loves you, She naturally gives you everything you need for happiness. And since God is all-powerful, there's no power that can interfere with the good God has planned for you. You will get what you want, because "the desires of thine heart" are really the desires God has given you to be a good and useful person.
I saw this happen with my own daughter. When she was in high school, she and her boyfriend were inspired by a series of articles in this newspaper to do volunteer work with children whose families were in Salvation Army shelters in Chicago. One week, they decided to bring the kids by train to Evanston, the suburb where we lived, for the Fourth of July celebrations.
I can still remember looking out the window and seeing them coming down the street. My daughter's boyfriend had a child on one shoulder and was holding the hand of another one. Our daughter was following a couple of paces behind with two or three more kids in tow. There was a look of responsibility on their faces that I hadn't seen before. Recently, I asked our daughter if that volunteer work had been as satisfying to her as I remembered. She answered enthusiastically that it had. She had loved the responsibility that came with the job, as well as doing things that were fun and educational for the kids.
Young people have lots of ideas and energy that every community needs. You can ask adults you know - your parents, teachers, pastor, coach - for ideas about how you can help out. And you can ask God to guide you to do good in your life. Helping people fills voids and gets rid of boredom better than anything else. Drug highs appear trivial and frivolous in comparison.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, gave as its guiding principle, "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind" (see "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 353). She wrote in her major book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "If spiritual sense always guided men, there would grow out of ecstatic moments a higher experience and a better life with more devout self-abnegation and purity" (pg. 7).
Turning to God for guidance actually brings genuinely ecstatic moments frequently and in different ways. And it fills the times in between with peace.
... by love serve one another.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Galatians 5:13, 14
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor