Wednesday marks one month until I graduate highschool. Completing this stage of my life comes with many mixed emotions. My years in highschool have not been perfect, but they have taught me lifelong lessons about myself, others, and God. And while I am far from all-knowing about how to deal with these four years of life, I do have some things that I wish I had known in highschool, and I want to share them with you. This will be the first of four letters leading up to my graduation written to my highschool self. I hope you will benefit from them and take to heart God’s truth that He has graciously shown me throughout my highschool years.
People seem to have so many expectations of you, even though you are just learning about life. Take the time to think about your decisions. Take advice from older friends and family that you trust. But, most importantly, you need to figure out one thing: what do you believe?
First, what do you believe about yourself? Do you believe that you are crafted by God and worthy of love only because of Christ? You are. Do you believe that God made you just the way that you look, put you in the family that you are in, and gave you the personality that you have for a specific reason? He did. Do you believe that you are capable of rebelling against rebellion and being a teenager that loves God, works hard, and practices integrity? You are more than capable. God gave you your skills, personality, family, and even your looks to bring glory to Him. Use them for His purpose.
Second, what do you believe about others? If you don’t believe what God says about you first, you will never truly believe what he says about others. Do you believe that others are fallen people, with their own feelings, struggles, and emotions? Do you realize that they are probably too worried about themselves to care if you’re having a bad hair day or if you said something dumb? Instead of seeing others as competition and striving to please everyone, seek to please God by genuinely loving people through your words and actions.
Third, what do you believe about God? If you believe in Him, think about why. Is it just because your parents told you, or have you experienced Him for yourself? Get into the Bible. Make your time with God a habit now so it can be a springboard for the rest of your life. You will never, ever regret time spent reading the Bible and praying. Once you begin to formulate your own beliefs about God, you can understand yourself and other people better than ever before through the lens of His truth.
As you work through these questions, please realize that you do not have to do it alone. The most important lesson that I have learned during my highschool years (and am still learning, honestly) is that our parents, grandparents, and other trusted adults are a whole lot smarter than we think they are. It may have been a while since they were freshmen in highschool, but they still have wise advice that is worth listening to. You can also turn to Christian books, websites, and podcasts to help you with these questions. Just be sure that the resources that you use line up with Biblical truth. Ultimately, remember that God is with you every step of the way, from your struggle with self-confidence to your conflict with a friend to your doubts about what you believe. He will not leave you in the dust to figure things out for yourself, because you are His child and He loves you more than you will ever understand.
Keep on keeping on. Highschool is what you make it; you can either make the best of these four years to learn and grow, or you can choose to make unwise choices and regret it later. As you seek to understand your beliefs about yourself, others, and God, do not forget to return to Biblical truth and godly advice for help. Please remember that the here and now is not the end-all-be-all. Look forward to what God has for your future, and seek diligently after Him.
I asked people on social media this week, “If you could go back to when you were a freshman in high school and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?” I received so many comments that I decided to put them together for you in a document. Click here to access the free resource, “Advice to My Freshman Self.” I pray that you will take the advice of believers who were exactly where you are not too long ago.