(Written especially for young people)
I HUNG out with a group of girls who were trying out to be cheerleaders. Some wanted to become cheerleaders so they could get to know the football players--others just didn't want to be left out. I went along because my friends went along. I auditioned and failed. Somehow whether you were on the team determined whether you were still in the group. Those of us who didn't make it were now left out of everything.
That year was tough. My friends looked as if they were having a lot of fun. Then one day I learned that each weekend the cheerleaders and the football players had parties that included drugs, alcohol, and sex. A number of my friends were pregnant by the time they graduated from high school.
I knew I didn't want to get involved with the drugs, alcohol, and sex that passed for ``fun.'' But I could surely see that feeling left out would make it tempting to go along with what the others were doing! Even though I'd learned how important innocence and purity are, when these friends behaved as if these qualities didn't matter, I was torn between yielding to temptation so I could be popular and doing what was right.
It wasn't an easy choice. But I was able to make the right decision--not because of how great and moral I was or because I failed to make the team but because I had learned to turn to God. At first I just turned to Him to help me feel good about myself--I felt so left out. Then I started turning to Him for guidance. I wanted to do what was right. Relying on God to guide my decisions kept me from becoming involved in things I knew were not right. Because it wasn't easy, I prayed more and more. I prayed to understand man's innate, God-given goodness and purity. I prayed to express man's Godlikeness. I prayed a lot!
Man's Godlikeness is expressed in more than innocence though. It includes qualities that help us deal with the ins and outs of everyday life. And these God-given qualities are all necessary to our experience because they help us govern our thoughts and actions. They keep us from acting in ways that aren't so good. Relying on God to show us His goodness, we begin to lay a foundation that we can build on.
Once this foundation of spiritual qualities is established within thought and action, we're helped through difficult times. In the midst of peer pressure to do something we know is wrong, this foundation becomes our haven. We find that we do have a choice on how we act and what we do. That's what happened to me. And it can happen to you.
Christ Jesus knew the need to pray to be kept from temptation. In what we now call the Lord's Prayer, he taught his disciples to pray, ``Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil'' (Matthew 6:13). And Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes a spiritual interpretation of this line in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says, ``And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death'' (p. 17).
This is our way out if we find we're in the midst of temptation or trying to overcome its results. Wrong thoughts and actions don't come from God; they're not part of His creation; and they can never steal away our God-given innocence. We can spiritually trust God to deliver us from sin, disease, and death. Our prayer leads us to God. It leads us to our native innocence.