Geronda, does a young person’s anxiety for his future stem from unbelief?
Not always. Often, young people who are interested in finding their path in life while also remaining close to God worry about how this will all be established. This actually shows health; for if a young person does not show concern about his or her future, it reveals a certain indifference or carelessness, which could result in their becoming a good-for-nothing. Youths just need to be careful to control their anxiety, because the devil will try to destroy them with it, putting them in agony by keeping their nous in constant tumult. [Nous is often translated as the eye of the heart.] Young people need to entrust themselves wholly to God. By doing so they will become peaceful, because the Good God, our loving Father, acts where we are humanly not able to act. It is not necessary for youths to rush about making childish decisions to follow in their lives. I know youths who really agonize and try to resolve all their problems quickly. In the end they get confused, leaving their studies.
For example, even before finishing college they totally stress out about their future, which causes them to lag behind in their studies. The end result is worse than if they had not been so hasty. It can’t happen all at once. Problems are not solved this way. Instead, they should resolve within themselves to give order to their lives. In other words, first they should be sure to get their diploma. Then they can find a job, or, in the case of young men, finish the military. [Greece requires military service for all young men.] And then, in peace and with the help of God, they can decide either to start a family (if they have decided on the married life) or go to a monastery (if they have chosen monasticism).
Therefore, I tell young people who are studying and have such worries – because what they’ll do with their lives has not matured within them yet – that they should continue with their studies; and that which grows within them over time, and gives them peace, that is what they should do with their lives. If they have a good disposition, God will help. Little by little it will become clear which life is for them – married, or celibate in a monastery – and they will find rest.
– St. Paisios of Mount Athos