Did you ever wonder what you were supposed to do with your life? It doesn’t matter whether you’re fourteen or forty-four, folks of all ages ask themselves that question. At fifty-four, I still ask myself that question sometimes. That’s partly how I became an author of teen fiction at such a late stage in my life.
It makes sense for teens to think about this question…and they tend to think about it a lot. Should I go to college or technical school, or would it be better for me to start a career someplace with on-the-job training? If I do go to college, should I go in-state or get away from home? What should I major in? Maybe I should take a year off to go on a missionary trip or join the Peace Corps.
Teens ask themselves those kinds of questions, especially as they approach the end of their high school years. Those questions are important, and the answers might change over time (especially the one about what you should major in while in college).
But perhaps the one question that you haven’t asked yourself yet is the most important one of all—“What does God want me to do with my life?” Why is that question so great? I’ll tell you.
Seeking God’s will for your path in life will eventually carry you to a place where you find true peace and fulfilment, which are impossible to find without God. Perhaps Saint Augustine of Hippo famously said it best in 398 A.D., writing “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” He would know: he tried just about everything before returning to God. That’s why those who pursue money or fame or power often end up so miserable—they’ve been searching for all the wrong things.
By the way, your job isn’t necessarily your “vocation” in life. When people talk about discerning a vocation, they are usually discerning whether God wants them to become a priest, nun, or brother, or whether God wants them to get married, or perhaps to stay single throughout their lives. In each of those vocations, they might do many kinds of jobs. For instance, a priest might also be an author or a lawyer…or an exorcist!
In my medieval teen fiction series, The Harwood Mysteries, my main character (Xan) often faces questions similar to the ones teens face today. He often finds himself frustrated, though, because he thinks God should show him the entire path to his life in advance. That’s not usually how it works.
In reality, God often shows us only enough of our paths so that we can take the next step in faith. As Xan learns, this is a blessing in disguise because it helps us trust God more each day. It also forces us to keep our eyes on Him throughout our entire lives so that we can find our place of true happiness in this world and eternal bliss in the world to come.
Novels and short stories from Catholic Teen Books often demonstrate how God can take the winding paths of our lives and make them lead straight back to Him:
In my medieval series, The Harwood Mysteries, Xan’s life changes forever when bandits attack his village in twelfth-century England, causing him to live with the monks at Harwood Abbey. Over the course of the six-book series, Xan and his friends, Lucy and Christina, will dodge death and solve eerie, suspenseful mysteries—all while seeking God’s will for their lives.
In Three Last Things by Corinna Turner, Carl Jarrold, a convicted assassin, doesn't even believe God exists. In a few hours, he will be executed--can God lead Carl back to him in time?
In I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner, it seems like a disaster when Margo fails her Sorting test and is reAssigned to be spare parts for the more perfect members of society. But will God use this very disaster in her life to challenge everything society accepts?
In Leslea Wahl's Blindside series, Jake and his family have slowly veered away from their faith. As a premier athlete, Jake's training schedule and rise to fame became the focus of the family. A move to a small mountain community where he meets Sophie, and the dangerous mystery they become involved in, create the catalyst that brings Jake back to his faith.
In Heaven's Hunter, Randall feels like his life is falling apart. But maybe what seem like disasters will bring him where he needs to go.
The characters in the contemporary West Brothers series by Theresa Linden face challenges teens face today, from loneliness and failure to various temptations and standing up for what is right. A very important truth also comes through in each book: God is always with us, calling us closer to Himself, and giving us grace, especially through His Church. And no matter how far one has strayed, with God all things are possible.
Author spotlight: Antony Barone Kolenc
I am currently a law professor, podcaster, and author of the medieval historical fiction series, The Harwood Mysteries, published by Loyola Press. I’m excited for the release of Book Five in that teen series, due out October 24, 2023. The other four books have won over a dozen book awards. It’s an adventuresome, suspenseful series for readers who are at least ten years old.
What else is there to know about me? My wife, Alisa, and I homeschooled our five children, and we now live in Florida. Before I became a law professor, I served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, spending 21 years in active-duty military service.
In addition to novels, I write short stories, legal articles, and a regular column in Practical Homeschooling Magazine. I also host a weekly radio show and podcast, The Shepherd’s Pie—an uplifting, ecumenical show about how faith can help us in our messy lives.