My fourth daughter began high school today <sigh> and as is my tradition I wrote her a letter for her first day of school. Having just returned from my own 30th high school class reunion and also entering a new season of life myself, I had many thoughts rolling around in my head about high school and life’s journey that made there way into this letter.
Dear Rebekah (Bop!)
Today is the big day…your first day of high school (and your first day of actually going to a school building with “real” teachers, schedules and tardy bells) I know you are excited and full of anticipation and perhaps even apprehension for what these four years may hold for you…
- new friendships to be made
- life lessons to be learned
- exciting new experiences
- school camps & chapel services
- athletic competition & team sports
- social events in abundance
- clubs, community service & extra curricular activities
- drivers license procured
- leadership opportunities
- making memories that will last a lifetime
- good times!
I pray that these four years are filled with all of these things and more. I hope that you will take advantage of every opportunity available to you…that you will hold nothing back and jump in to high school life without fear or apprehension. It will go by so fast and before you know it, you will be graduating and beginning another new season of life. Do not waste even a minute of your high school years! Savor each & every moment.
On the other side, life is also full of unexpected and often unwanted experiences, twists and turns. As we stand at the threshold of this new season of life it is good to stop and think of what the four years may hold that could possibly bring hurt, anger or even great sorrow to our lives…
- rejection, isolation or being hurt by others
- being the subject of ridicule, gossip or slander
- unfair or unjust treatment by those in authority
- persecution for your faith
- financial constraints that prevent you from doing or having something you want
- being uprooted from your home and having to begin again in a new place
- a life altering injury or accident
- dealing with sickness or disease yourself or with a friend or family member
- losing a loved one – perhaps a dear friend or family member
Yes, it is sobering to think of all the hardships, (and you may be thinking sarcastically….”Wow, Mom what an encouraging letter…not!”) but these are realities of life that you may be faced with during high school. Certainly however, you will face many of them in your lifetime and I want you to take sometime to consider how we should live our lives both during the good times and the bad.
In the Good Times
While in general during the good seasons of life we are happy and content, it is easy during these seasons to get complacent, ungrateful and even critical. We get complacent with our relationships with God, our family and even in our friendships. We can become ungrateful for all that we have been given and even come to expect to be given life on a “silver platter”. We often are critical of others as we become more and more self centered during seasons of smooth sailing.
I want to encourage you during this current “good season” of life to develop a deeper relationship with God than you ever have before, don’t wait until the storms of life come to draw near to Him. Cling closely to your family. You have been blessed with an “intact” loving Christ centered home and have many sisters and a brother who love you as well as parents who would lay down their lives for you. Do not take that for granted. In four short years (and yes they will be short) you will potentially be out of the house and perhaps never again have the day to day interaction and opportunities you have now to enjoy the family you have been blessed with. Develop friendships that will last a lifetime by centering them on the only thing that lasts – Jesus Christ! Have Bible studies together, talk about the deep things of life, pray together, encourage one another to do well and enjoy the fruit of love & joy (and lots of laughter) as you make meaningful memories during your high school experience.
Always be grateful for all that you have been given – and you my dear daughter have been given much! You have been blessed with intelligence, creativity, communication & organization skills, leadership, influence, athletic ability, tenacity, strength, drive and beauty. You have also been given life, health, family, friends and most importantly – God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit. Do not become ungrateful for the many gifts you have been given. Thank the Lord for each new day and use your gifts and talents for His glory!
Do not be critical. You can’t help what you might feel or think when dealing with other people – your parents, sisters, brother, friends, teachers, youth pastors, and school administrators but you can decide how you will react and what you will speak out of your mouth. A critical spirit is so ugly and will ultimately only destroy you. Speak positively. Offer positive alternatives. Talk with those (not about those) who you are feeling critical towards “behind closed doors” about your complaints (NOT to others…unless you want to get advice from Mom & Dad). Pray for them.
And lastly during the good times…enjoy life. Don’t whine or stress over the little things.
In the Bad Times
You have heard me say so often…”It is not what happens to you in life that matters, it is how you respond” God is looking for a proper response to the trials, tribulations, sorrows & hardships of this life.
Do not be surprised if some of the hardships I listed above come your way over the course of your high school experience. You can actually count on it! (joyful thought, I know!) The Bible does not say “If “ you experience trials & tribulations but “when”. Yes, you will have trials, rejection, humiliation, sorrow and hardships. So be ready!
How will you respond Rebekah?
- Will you run to God to be your “everything” when you are rejected, set apart or isolated from others?
- Will you respond with love & forgiveness when you are hurt or treated unkindly?
- Will you trust God to be your “lawyer” when you are treated unfairly or when things are unjust?
- Will you believe that God will provide all of your needs according to His riches in glory when financial stresses come your way?
- Will you love those who do not love you & pray for those who persecute you?
- Will you trust & believe that God has a perfect plan for your life and that He will lead, guide & instruct you even when the road is hard or it is a path you did not want to take?
- Will you believe He is able to do abundantly more than you could ever ask or think and that He is the great Physician & Healer for those who may be injured or sick in body?
- Will you trust that the Lord is good and sovereign even if you lose a loved one?
- Will you say “Blessed be the Name of the Lord” even if He takes away from you the most precious things in your life?
- Will you run to God and not away from Him in the midst of the trials that come your way?
- Will you serve the Lord….no matter what happens in your life?
These are good questions for us all to consider and decide in advance of the “bad times” in life how we will respond.
Rebekah, here’s to both the “good times” & the “bad times” that are ahead of you during these high school years. Cherish, appreciate and take advantage of the good times and respond in a Christ like way to the bad times so that He can “turn your mourning into dancing”, “make beauty from ashes” & use those experiences to mold you, shape you and change your life in such a way that you will look back at both the good & the bad with great joy!
I love you Rebekah more than I can express in words. You are so very much like me in many, many ways (I know you hate hearing that!) and yet so far beyond what I ever was as a freshman in high school. I am proud of you and honored to be chosen to be your Mom. I can’t wait to see the big things that God has for you in this life.
As you begin high school today… “May the Lord bless you, keep you, make His face to shine upon you, be gracious unto you and give you peace”
Zoot! Zoot! Zoot!
PS – I will miss having you here at home “running the show” although I won’t miss you trying to boss me around! 🙂