Ever since I was in the eighth grade in school I have had bad thoughts that bother me a lot. Vulgar and offensive words have been stuck in my mind, and lately they have gotten worse. I have begun to have bad thoughts about my parents, whom I love…. I ask God every day to forgive me for that, but I don’t get any answer. I can’t even read the Bible in peace because these thoughts come to my mind…. I don’t want God to turn His back on me.

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry to hear that your thoughts are tormenting you. Unfortunately, the more that you focus on what you are thinking about, the more you will think about that thing. And the more you try to stop thinking about that thing, the more difficult it is to do it.

That may be what is happening to you. You may feel guilty about hearing vulgar language, so when you focus on getting it out of your mind, it tends to get stuck and get repeated in your mind. And when it is repeated, you feel more guilt, which leads to a stronger determination to clear it out of your mind, which leads to the words being more firmly anchored there.

Put your mind to work on other things so that you can push out the negative thoughts. For example, determine to memorize the countries of the world and identify each of them on a map from memory. Or memorize the lyrics to songs or the words of favorite poems.

With regard to your feelings about your parents, it is normal for teenagers to want to break free of their parents, just as it is normal for parents to want to protect their teenage children. These normal tendencies can lead to misunderstandings and resentments, even when the two sides love each other.

However, if you have had thoughts of harming your parents, that is not normal. Fantasizing about harming anyone is an indication of serious mental distress and requires immediate medical attention.

As long as your thoughts are stuck whirling around and around in your head, there is no way for anyone else to know if what you are experiencing is common, or if you need medical help. We urge you to ask your parents to get you an appointment with a medical doctor. During that appointment, tell the doctor about your thoughts and ask for his or her advice.

You say that you ask forgiveness from God, but that you don’t get an answer. That is incorrect. You do have an answer, and it is from the apostle John. Speaking of God, John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”(1) Since you say you have asked for forgiveness, then God has forgiven you. That will not change. You do not need a new answer to your prayer.

God will not turn His back on anyone who is earnestly trying to follow Him. It is we who turn our backs on God, not the other way around.

We wish you the best,

1 1Jn 1:9