This weekend I attended my 20th reunion. I signed up 2 days AFTER the deadline. I wasn’t sure if I would go. I almost didn’t. I’m so glad I did.
I left feeling like I could write a really inspirational, poignant senior commencement speech. And then I thought, “No–that’d be too late. They need to hear this in the beginning…” So…here goes—
I just returned home from my 20th reunion, and I’m so glad that I went. I hope that 20 years…wait–24 years after today–you will go too…that you’ll WANT to go too.
I wish that I could impart to you the wisdom you will have at your 20th year reunion to take into your 4 years of high school. But…
If only you would read this slower–maybe twice–and take it in even if it doesn’t make sense now or it doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal.
And I promise–you’ll be glad you did.
1. Be kind.
You will walk into those high school walls wanting to be accepted. You are not alone. You will be tempted to say things or do things to be accepted…and some times you will tempted to even forget the preciousness of your heart–and you might be tempted at times to hurt others. But–BE KIND. You are not alone. Every single soul you pass–also wants to be accepted. Be different. Look hard to find something you appreciate and can love about every person you pass in the hallway. When others laugh or choose to be cruel–be different. BE KIND. (At your 20th year reunion–you will thank me.)
2. Have fun.
Life should always be fun whether you are 15 or 40. Look for ways to make the boring things fun–and don’t be afraid to take chances. So the drama club isn’t cool? Who cares;). Be confident. Try new things–and just have fun. I was terrible at Spanish. Hated it. But at my 20th reunion I ran into a classmate who shared with me how she looked forward to it–because I’d walk into the class and occasionally fake a fall to make everyone laugh. I totally didn’t remember this until she reminded me, but in that moment I was thankful as I remembered 20+ years later that I had made the hard things fun and funny. Create memories and have fun. There’s no reason school…or the memories you make during the next 4 years…should be boring;) But–don’t tell your teachers or your parents I said that if you choose to fall down tomorrow after sharpening your pencil or you decide to be silly and do something that we are still laughing about at the 20th reunion;)
3. Save the romantic relationships for marriage.
It was so much fun connecting with classmates without having any long-term dating relationships there to make things…with my husband present–weird. I was thankful my memories were full of funny friendship memories. You know those people who always had to have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Well–you will meet them soon and oddly enough–they weren’t at the 10 or 20 year reunions. Know there’s value in pouring into friendships now most of all. If you spend your high school time just hanging out with 1 person–you really have very little reason to come and re-connect because you just spent your years absorbed with 1 person…um–no fun;). It rarely works–and if it does…if he really loves you girls–he’ll stick around for after high school and college…and let you have your friends in high school too:).
4. Live for others and put others first.
Young people–you have such an opportunity in your schools and communities to shine brightly now. Serve in the little things–just letting someone in front of you in the lunch line or reaching out to be friends with someone who looks more afraid than you are–might be what you are called to do tomorrow. Look for someone hurting–and just be there to listen and walk with them. This can be beautiful practice for much that is ahead–in friendships, marriage, parenting, work…the list goes on. Befriend someone you think is completely different than you–because trust me–they might just be someone you look up to 20 years from now. Look for the best in every single face–and put them first…considering their interests or needs before your own.
5. Dream big now.
Dreaming big can feel like such a distant “when I grow up” or after I go to college goal…but it starts now. Know that the Lord has a plan for your life. Remember that He has a great big plan as you make decisions–both big and small. Make decisions you will be proud of in 20 years. Be honest with your parents–and if you don’t have parents that really care about the nitty gritty–find a friend’s parents you can be honest with and ask them if they will be mentor/accountability parents for you. Dream big about how God might use your gifts for His glory–and never ever let anyone stomp those dreams that He places in your heart.
6. Be brave.
Be brave to put yourself out there over and over again no matter how many times your heart gets hurt and no matter how many times you fail. Both will happen–and it’s the getting back up and learning from the falls that will shape you. The world can be cruel–but it can also be beautiful. Give to the Lord what is just too much for you to carry–and rise each day knowing He has a plan. Take chances with your mind and heart and dreams–and know that while the world might laugh–He loves you. So be brave.
High school can be hard–but it can also be beautiful. You can make a difference starting right now…on your first day–all the way to that 20th year reunion and beyond. I will tell you that every face you pass–one day you will treasure. And those who were kind to everyone will stand the tallest. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. So many sweet memories are ahead! So–take chances and have fun! It’s going to be the ride of a life-time and full of memories you will treasure.
Trust Him for sweet friendships and rest in His grace and love. You WILL make mistakes, but I pray that you learn and grow from them becoming stronger and brighter and more like Him as you do.Do the best you can–and know that everything rests in His hands–and no matter what happens…He truly has a perfect plan for your life!
Pictured above my sweet friends in 1995 and 2015…24 years after our freshman year in high school–and 20 years after graduation:). I love each of you to the moon and back–and so thankful for the sweet memories you blessed me with!!! Thank you for seeing me through the crazy days, being there when I made bad decisions, being kind and being such good friends–and for loving me no matter what. You shaped who I am today–and I’m thankful. So blessed to call each of you friends.