Last night I attended a high school graduation party. Held in a lovely venue with both young people and their families, it was both a happy and a sad occasion. I have known many of these young men and women for years and have an affinity for several of them…especially my own young man who is among the graduates. “Thing 2” is heading out to college in less than a month and I am feeling great trepidition. I have spent the past year pushing down that daymare-dread; fearful for what’s next… ergo facing the proverbial empty nest.
However, at last night’s festivities as I chatted with these college-bound youngsters, their excitement, anticipation and dreams of bright futures buoyed my own spirits. Surprisingly, a few of my sun’s friends sought me out for “what’s next” advice and so this morning, I thought to write down a nugget or two that was discussed – in hopes that it would benefit others.
- Make your choices wisely. The first several years out of high school, a young person is not quite an adult, but not really a child – and so there is the pain and angst of really figuring out who they are and what that looks like. Bad choices lead to difficult futures. There are acquaintances and then there are soul friends. There is a difference. Don’t pin your heart to someone else’s easily….
“Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.” 1Corinthians 13:15 (AMP)
- Find a trusted wingman. In my own life I have two women who I have given permission to challenge me, push me and hold me accountable. It is a mutual relationship. A person who really loves you, does so no matter what bonehead decisions you make. However, that same person(s) should be one who will be bold enough to say what needs to be said and be a spiritual brother or sister.
“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:1
- Don’t Pollute your own Waters. Look, I get it – your out of the house, freedom at last….but do not forget that Jesus bought us all for a price – His life. If you are really a follower of Jesus Christ, why would you cheapen that sacrifice by dishonoring your own body with things that WILL harm you? Would you vandalize your own home? Of course not! Then treat the gift of your mind, body and heart with the respect it deserves. Jesus lives there…and you have to live in that frame until you die. Take very good care of it.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthian 6:19-20
- Be your own dog and “zig” when others are “zagging.” It is so hard not to follow the crowd…but what if the crowd is leading you off a cliff? Growing up happens once in your lifetime – at this time in your life you can make a few mistakes and still recover from them….but make choices that will edify you, keep you close to the truth of your faith and do not trade in momentary “fun” that can lead to a pattern of bad life choices.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
- Push your own boundaries. Ah, the breathless excitement of exploration, of learning new things, of discovering the strength and depth of your own abilities – it becomes an opiate unto itself. Never lose site of the fact that your were put on this earth for such a time as this. God has filled your cup with specific strengths and blessings because He has amazing plans for you. Trust Him to lead you and find out what His plans are. Your future is His platform.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
- Don’t be a know-it-all. This one is likely the hardest for us all – as we humans, young and old always think we know best…but God reminds us that actually He knows best and if we will trust in His guidance, He will put us on the right paths.
“Trust in the Lord in all you do, lean not unto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will set your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
- Feelings Will Fail You. The wisdom of today is the feel-good statement to “be true to your heart,” which is lovely except the emotion of today can be the heart-break of tomorrow. Learn to balance your decisions with your head…that is why God put the brain in the driver seat with the heart to follow. Seek facts – not just ever-changing feelings which can toss you around like an unmoored boat on the sea. God promises us in the book of James that if we ask for wisdom and discernment, He will give it to us.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).
- Pause, Praise and Pray. Not everything in life is a fire drill. You will have problems. Before your freak out, think about what may be good about the situation. For example, maybe you flunked a test? What is the good in that? The lesson itself actually; nothing like pain to cause change. So calm down – put it on Pause… and ask yourself, what part of this do I own? Then Praise…thank God for the opportunity that you even go to college. Not everyone can. Finally Pray… Ask for God to chill you out and help you focus on your priorities. Then go make the change that will make a difference.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:16-18 (ESV)
- Finally -Live Life Abundantly! Jesus tells us in John 10:10, that He came to give us good lives – so heed His guidance and in this next four years Drink From Life with an extra large straw slurping up all the experience, the freedom, the friendships, the life knowledge and the sense of accomplishment and surety you will have most certainly earned. Now – just go DO IT!