Nine years ago today, I was walking across a stage in full graduation regalia, unsure of what life had in store for me. There were a lot of dramatic things happening in my life at that moment: my grandmother had passed away just the day before, and the boy I thought I was dating rather seriously told me he never wanted me to speak to him again. Life was most certainly uncertain.
I knew I was heading off to Freed-Hardeman University in the fall, but little else was known. None of the friends I’d had in high school were going with me; most didn’t even know what or where it was. And mostly, I was okay with that. I had spent the better part of my senior year of high school distancing myself from people I knew I wouldn’t really associate with after high school, but really, I wish I had done that and so many other things differently. As I reflect back on my past life — my high school, not-Christlike life, there are so many things I would change.
First, I would change my approach to people. I spent a lot of my high school life acting completely ridiculous (you don’t get voted class clown because you were a serious person). However, I should have taken more moments to stop and share Jesus with others. As life works out, most people I graduated with I will never speak to again. Some have already passed into eternity. Others have moved off to who knows where. Some I’m friends with on Facebook, but most I have no contact with. I lost my mission field. I was too busy spending life in the youth group circle that I forgot to get out there into the need Jesus circle. It is my prayer that they saw my convictions, but mostly, they probably observed a struggling young girl trying to figure life out but failing miserably.
Second, I would hold fast to my convictions. I made some major stands in high school…that I would later go back on out of spite for people mistreating me. I chose to act out rather than be a peacemaker when people spread rumors about me, but really, that’s just one example of many where I let the world influence me rather than Christ. There are a lot of excuses to offer, but mostly, I just wasn’t being real. I wasn’t letting Jesus transform me. Being well-liked and popular was more appealing than being meek and forgiving.
Third, I would forget about boys. For years. I had some boyfriends in high school that would lead me away from Jesus. Be in through their actions, or my need to feel love, I let them become number one and Jesus fall somewhere near second. Again, a lot of excuses, but mostly just regret. None of the boys I dated in high school are faithful Christians. Some were, but now aren’t. How could I have helped their faith if I had put Jesus in His rightful position? Maybe by using our friendship to show them Jesus, and not letting high school romance cloud our vision.
There are probably a host of other things about high school Emily that I would change, but I know I can’t. All I can do now is pray for forgiveness in the areas where I fell short, and pray that God will give me another opportunity to help these people. To show them what Jesus truly looks like. To let my example always be Christ-like, even if it’s just a virtual example. And, I can pray for the teenage Christians who are right now battling these same things. May we pray for all of our young Christian brothers and sisters, who will be haunted by their actions or inaction. And may we all be strong enough and humble enough to realize we made mistakes, and do our best to not implement them in our lives right now…by either focusing on things other than Jesus, or not being evangelistic, or letting the world make us conform to its standards instead of being transformed by the Word of God.
Some people reading this probably knew past-life Emily. They probably heard her smart mouth, witnessed her unChristlike behavior, or felt her vicious sarcasm. If you are one of those people, know that I’m sorry, and know how thankful I am for Jesus’ saving blood which forgives me of my past, and shows me how to lead a better future.