DEAR ABBY: I'm a 15-year-old boy. I'm happy with my life, except for one thing. My mom believes in God, and Dad doesn't. I believe in God, but I don't support my mom's religion. My friends and neighbors think I'm in that religion, but I don't believe in their beliefs. It's really uncomfortable when people ask why I haven't been in church.
Mom signs me up for church activities, and I don't like going. I feel awkward when I try to talk to my parents about it. I'm not close to them, and I don't know what to do. I have been feeling stressed out lately. I don't want to hurt my mother's feelings. Can you help me? -- TEEN IN OGDEN, UTAH
DEAR TEEN: I can try. What you should not do is allow your mother's devout faith and your lack of it to become a contest of wills or a basis for argument.
At 15, you are entering adulthood, and these are important years in your life. Thank your mother for the great foundation she has given you. Tell her you love her, and you hope she will continue to love you as you explore what your beliefs are on your spiritual journey -- because it is a journey. A wise clergyman once told me something I will share with you: The opposite of faith is not doubt; it is certainty.
DEAR ABBY: I have had one major and one minor bout with cancer. Everyone I know treated me the same and were helpful except for one longtime friend I'll call Brandy.
You see, I changed and grew as a result of having cancer. The others seemed to accept this, but not Brandy. She still expects me to "snap back" and do everything I liked to do before. She can't accept that I want to try new things and have let go of others, sends me "gloom and doom" articles about cancer, and even tried to fix me up with someone even though I am happily married. Brandy treated me like an invalid, even after I recovered.
She does not like change and became angry when I suggested that both of us had changed -- perhaps too much to sustain the friendship. I tried explaining it to her, but she didn't understand. A therapist advised ending the friendship as gently as possible, so I did.
Do you think I did the right thing? We used to have so much in common. -- NOTHING'S THE SAME IN NEW YORK
DEAR NOTHING'S: Although you used to have a lot in common with Brandy, your cancer changed you. Someone who sends "gloom and doom" articles about the disease and tries to destroy your marriage by fixing you up is not a friend but a saboteur. You absolutely did the right thing by following your therapist's suggestion.
DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend pins me up against a wall to kiss me every chance she gets. What does this mean? -- LIP LOCKED IN L.A.
DEAR LIP LOCKED: I don't know what it means to her, but to me it means she may have seen it in a movie and is trying to show you how passionate she is about you. If you don't like it, speak up and say so -- and if you do like it, speak up and say so.