My New Friends Aren't Christians

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I've had the same group of Christian friends for a long time. But when I started high school, I felt like I was outgrowing them. I was feeling more and more unhappy and depressed at not having really good friends. Then I got involved in the school musical and made some new, more mature friends. They make me feel good about myself, and I'm much happier being with them. The problem is, they aren't Christians, and they sometimes do things they shouldn't do, like swear. I know they're not helping me grow closer to God. I don't want to cut off my new friendships, but I don't want to lose my relationship with God either. What can I do?

High school tends to be a time when old friendships change and new ones develop. And it's perfectly natural and normal for you to feel close to these new friends from the musical. Because of the long hours spent in rehearsals and the intensity of performing together, drama and music students often become close-knit friends.
But I wouldn't give up on your Christian friends, either. You may be "outgrowing" a few of them, but some of them might still be a positive influence for you. This is important, because you're going to become like the friends you spend the most time with. So you need to carefully watch how your new friends are affecting you. If you find yourself starting to swear or lose interest in your faith, you'll obviously want to cut down on the amount of time you spend with them. And you'll want to increase the time you spend with Christian friends.
Some students who participate in activities where there aren't a lot of Christians find it helpful to join a Christian club or fellowship group. This kind of group helps keep them strong in their faith and holds them accountable for their actions. Try to find that smaller group of mature Christians who can help you grow in your faith and at the same time influence you with positive Christian actions. I think you'll find these mature Christian friends are a lot of fun to be around, too.
I like this reminder from the Bible: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17). If you're willing to put God first as you make decisions about your life and your lifestyle, then I think you'll make the right decisions about friendships. And you could even lead some of your new friends to Christ as you live a life that honors him. I hope you'll do whatever it takes to keep the Lord at the center of your life.

Mom's Too Strict!

My mom doesn't let me do anything. I'm 17 years old and still can't got out with my friends without permission. Although I go to church and have not done drugs or anything too rebellious, I have no freedom. When I try talking to her, she thinks I'm being smart. I don't know what to do. Please help me.

You're not alone on this one. Most 17-year-olds with caring, Christian parents think Mom and Dad are a little too strict. In your parents' defense, since you haven't done drugs or been too rebellious, they probably did something right! But what worked before isn't working so well for you now. The fact is, you're at a pretty awkward stage in family relationships—a time when you're rapidly moving from dependence on your parents toward much more independence. And it's going to be tough for everyone involved.
Here's what I would do if I were you. I would make a "contract" with your parents. I would state very clearly my specific desires for more independence. Then I would write out how the contract rules would change depending on whether or not I held up my end of the bargain.
For example, maybe your curfew is 10 p.m. and you want it to be 11. Write on the contract that you would like your parents to move the curfew to 10:30 for a specific period of time—say the next three months. If you consistently make it home on time, then after three months your parents move the curfew to 11. If you fail to keep the new curfew, they move it back to 10 for three more months. That's the idea.
Here's what's great about the contract: Your actions, not your parents' rules, determine whether you are ready for more freedom, since you'll live by your wise or unwise decisions. The success or blame rests with you. So talk to your parents about trying out this idea. It might be just what you need.

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