Remember high school? Way back when. When you were younger. Things were different, maybe way different. The world isn't like it is now. You didn't have all the crazy stuff that exists now. Right? The words I just wrote apply to when you were in high school. Whether you graduated in 1952 or 2012. Everyone more or less feels that way. If you're REALLY old, you remember before the internet, before cell phones, before cable television, maybe before color TV. If you're just recently out of high school you remember when Facebook wasn't just for mom's, the pre-Snapchat era, a world before #hashtags, or listening to CD's. The point is everyone feels like high school was a long time ago.
Things have changed, man!
However, some things haven't changed at all. Do you remember what it felt like to be in high school? The awkwardness, the confusion. the sense of insecurity, the wondering if anyone liked you, or even noticed you. Do you remember the hesitation of calling that girl on the phone (or texting if you're younger). Getting ready to go to an event/game/party and wondering, "who will be at the party/event/game? Are my friends going? Is that special someone going? Am I wearing the right clothes? Do I smell bad? How does my hair look? Am I cool? Do I matter? Is everything going to be ok? Would people really like me if they really knew me?
I've known thousands of high school kids over the last 25 years. I've been friends with all types of high school kids; nerds, football players, gamers, skaters, cheerleaders, band kids, kids with lots of friends, kids with no friends, kids who felt part of the crowd, kids who felt like they didn't fit in, kids who had it all, and kids who barely had anything.
"I thought when I grew up that everyone would be an adult and act differently. Now that I'm middle aged I realize that grownups are really just older (and usually heavier and balder) high school kids."
I say this often.
Because I'm convinced it's true.
The younger version of me used to think by the time you were middle-aged you were ok, you made it, you had the answers, you felt secure, people didn't worry about petty drama anymore. Oops. Not true. Middle-aged folks ( I love typing that) still struggle with all the same things that high school people do. For better of for worse. We aren't completely done at this age. We are still working it out, still trying to relate, to see if we matter, to figure out if people like us or not. Sure, at this age we are better at masking all of this stuff, heck we've had 25 more years to practice pretending everything is ok, but it's still not.
I posted this on Facebook about 18 months ago:
"Everything isn't perfect. Various parts of life are hard from time to time. My kids don't make 100's in all their classes. I don't have ripped abs. My friends aren't all perfect, beautiful people, with no problems. Sometimes I say insanely rude things on accident, every once in a while I do it on purpose. Everyone is messed up, everyone has problems and I'd just like to remind everyone of that fact. Even though all of us try to put forth only our best on social media, it's not the complete version of us, just the prettiest. This isn't a new revelation for anyone, but I just feel like I ought to put that out there to remind myself and everyone else once in a while."
It got tons of responses from.......... people in their late 30's and 40's. I've spent my entire adult life sharing what I'm about to say with high school age folks, but now I'd like to say it to all of my peers.....
You matter. You have value. Not because of what you do, or how you perform, or how funny you are, or how many friends you have or how well your children do in school, sports, dance, or socially. You are valuable because God created you. You aren't a mistake or an accident. He made you and because of that he feels actual affection for you, just like you feel for your children (if you have kids). While you haven't been perfect and you have ultimately turned away from God, (all of us like sheep have gone astray) He is perfect parent that keeps showing up, keeps pursuing, keeps loving you, even when the rest of life seems to fall apart. How do we know this?
Because God demonstrates his love for us in this, while we are imperfect sinners, Christ died for us. He bought us back with a price, the price was his own Son's life. Jesus died once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us back to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit. He did this so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again....Jesus. Jesus came to give us life forever, but forever starts right now, the minute you decide to let Jesus define you. He isn't asking you to follow a list of rules or perform and achieve and prove yourself to Him. He love you because you are you. He likes you. (Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18,
If you feel beat down trying to perform, keep up, have it all, be the perfect American achiever, Jesus offers freedom from the need to continue that rat race.. However, that freedom has to reembraced everyday, it's not just a one time thing. Jesus calls us to lose ourselves in Him continually, that is what it means to follow Christ. When we lose ourselves in Him, then we will utlimately find ourselves. Jesus said it this way, "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." (Mark 8:35)
Follow Jesus. It will be the best thing you ever do. Let Him define you.
"The world is desperately seeking someone to follow. That they will follow someone is certain, but will he be a man who knows the way of Christ, or will he be one like themselves leading them only on into greater darkness? This is the decisive question of our plan of life. The relevance of all that we do waits upon its verdict, and in turn, the destiny of the multitudes hangs in the balance." - Robert Coleman
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” - John 8:12
You still may feel insecure, out of place and overwhelmed at times, but with Jesus you'll know who you really are and even in the midst of life's storms and uncertainty.