The heat of the long summer days has not subsided, yet back to school tasks are beginning. My oldest is entering first grade, all of her school years still ahead of her. She is still young enough to look forward to school with expectancy.
On the other end of the spectrum, someone special in my life is entering her senior year. A different kind of expectancy surrounds her and her family, as a life-changing year looms in front of her.
These are my words for her:
We haven’t often talked about serious matters. Our relationship has often been expressed at a surface-level, but my love for you feels more like a protective older sister than anything. I was so young when you were born, about to enter my senior year of high school. I can’t believe you are now there yourself (and how old that makes me)!
As I think about the year ahead of you, of course, it makes me reflect on that time in my life when I felt like I was on the brink of real life. I didn’t realize how little I really knew. I probably wouldn’t have listened to someone telling me how to live my life, thinking I was so sure of what lay ahead. But you have always been the type that listens more than other people, an old soul. Keep listening. Others who have been before you have much to share.
I see the incredible potential in you to do great things for the world, a compassion for people that is rare in a person your age. I then look around at the culture you are in the center of, this generation that gets everything at lightning speed and expects instant gratification as their right. It is at such odds with the kind of life God designed us to live, waiting on Him and putting others ahead of ourselves. It must be so difficult to live a life of faith, feeling like you are swimming upstream in the middle of this generation.
But whatever you do, from here on out – it is up to you. You can let God guide you or you can follow the crowd. You are the one who makes the choice.
When I think of you entering your last year of high school, there is so much I want to tell you. I could tell you how important this year ahead of you is for your future, how the decisions you make this year will determine the course your life takes.
The school you decide to attend, the way you work (or slack off) this year – it can change the trajectory of your future. Your education is important and what you choose to do this year and beyond will shape your life. But don’t hold too tightly to any dream. Let God direct your path and if He changes your course, trust Him. He sees the End, what is best for you.
Proverbs 19.21 changed my life when I was so certain of what my future would look like. I was in Thailand, certain I would be moving to Asia within the year. A godly man who had spent much of his life serving others in south Asia said he felt the Lord telling him to share this verse with me: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
I learned to hold my plans a bit more loosely and when I didn’t end up moving to India but instead getting married the following year, God showed me how much better His plans are than my own.
I could tell you to keep godly friends at your side.
I can’t remember a single thing I learned in school the last half of my senior year as I became more concerned with social life rather than school. I let my friends determine the direction that year of my life took. I was so hurt by friends I identified as “good Christians” that I turned my back on the church altogether. I turned, instead, to people who selfishly took me down a path with them that could have led me to consequences beyond imagination. I think back at the things I did that year, the reputation I butchered and the careless way I undid 17 years of work.
It is simply by the grace of God, who would not give up on me, that I did not end up in a place I could never have recovered from. But it makes me sad to realize how I wasted what could have been the greatest year of my young life. I spent it on bitterness and selfishness. Friends that want you to make choices that could have dire consequences aren’t really your friends. They want someone to justify their actions. Don’t let another person wreck the foundation you have built. It is you that will live the rest of your life with the outcome, not them.
Mostly though, I would like to tell you to that there may be times you question what is True.
As you launch out into the world there will be people who try to convince you their way is right. There will be others who berate you if you live a life that is contrary to their world view. My first few years of college I buried what I knew to be true because I didn’t want to live according to God’s Word. I never stopped believing it but it was easy to run from for a while.
Questions are okay. Ask them to God. He can handle your doubts. But don’t turn your back on Him because of those doubts. Search out the Word for yourself. Get it in you and stay in it. Give God the chance to make what you have heard truly take root in your heart.
But whatever you do, from here on out – it is up to you. You can let God guide you or you can follow the crowd. You are the one who makes the choice. I believe in you and am praying all the time for the great things I know you have stored up inside of you to offer the world. As I told you to listen to the wisdom of those before you, I leave you with the wisdom of one of the greats…
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where you go.” – Dr. Seuss
Join the Conversation: What would you say to the Class of 2016?