A Letter to the Underclassmen

    Don't let the title of this fool you. This is as much a reminder to myself as it is advice for the younger kids here at school. 
    As graduation looms closer and closer, I've realized a few things- things I'd like to share with you. Things I've either observed, learned (whether the hard way or by someone warning me), or have been taught. Things pertaining to life, to school, to people, to my relationship with God, to sports- the list grows. Something all of these things have in common, though, is that at sometime in your life and mine, we all have gone or will go through tough situations, and hopefully what I have learned will be a help to you.

1) Always take the time to get to know other kids, from other schools. Whether you're in sports, music, drama, FFA, or any other activity- start a conversation with someone and get to know them. (This does not include just making awkward eye contact and mumbling "hi"- no....it doesn't...hate to break it to you) One thing I regret is not taking those five or ten minutes after the games to reach out to the other team. 

2) Always do your best. Always. Yes, I've struggled with this one. A lot. But there is no excuse, ever, for not giving everything your best shot. Yes, this means taking extra time to study for a test (I'm guilty of not doing that). Yes, this means getting frustrated over your pre-calc homework while getting help understanding it. No, this does not mean you will be perfect. But you will never regret giving your best. Plus, it's a lot easier to accept an outcome (good or bad) when you know you gave your entire best, because you know that ultimately, you were not doing it for yourself.

3) Take time from your day and be quiet. (I know that's a foreign word to some of us.) Listen to what God has to say. Read His Word. Dig into it, and think about it. Write down what you are thinking, or what He has shown you while reading that passage. Ask Him to teach you something or to show you something that maybe, you need to work on (it's not easy asking your Creator to show you what way is wrong in you, but it is oh-so-refreshing to know that the Lord of the Universe cares that much about you!). 

4) Be thankful and find joy. When things are going stellarly (is that a word?), thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy. When things are rough, thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy. When things are downright horrible, and you don't think they'll ever get better, guess what- thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy. 

5) Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray without ceasing. Always have the "communication lines" (as I like to call them) open directly up to God. I don't think prayer always has to be such a "formal" thing- yes, we need to remember Who we are praying to, but I don't think God minds if we treat it like a normal conversation, in fact, I think that's when we best talk to Him. Pray when you're running, when you're sitting in class (unless, of course, you should be listening), when a random person pops into your head. Pray when you're up in the middle of the night and you can't go to sleep. Pray like crazy for those around you- Christian and non-Christian alike. Pray that God would fill you with joy and a desire to be His vessel and servant. 

6) Encourage. Everyone. (Yes, even that little twerp who chomps his gum during class and never stops talking and drives you completely crazy). So often we get caught up so tightly in what we are doing, what we need to do, what everyone else is doing wrong. Don't get caught in that trap. Every time you are frustrated with someone, think of the positive things about them, and focus on that instead of what they did wrong. Write notes to others, encouraging them to keep on keeping on. Tell them what you appreciate about them. Don't be afraid to let them know that they have been an encouragement to you as well. And never take for granted those whom God has placed in your life to encourage you. I've found that when you pray to the God of encouragement, who knows everything about everybody, it becomes easier to encourage others, because God Himself has encouraged you.

7) Don't be afraid to hold each other accountable. No, this does not mean pointing fingers at everyone else for what they're doing wrong. It does not mean finding the faults in everyone. But it does mean that we need to humble ourselves and let others hold us accountable also. As Christians, we are not called to condemn each other, but to gently correct each other in truth. Make sure though, that you're doing it in love, and not in spite.

8) Enjoy high-school and all the joys and struggles that come with it. You may not have the "perfect" class, the "perfect" grades, the "perfect" talents, but by whose definition are they "perfect" anyway? God has given you what you needed at this time in your life, and He will use you whether you want Him to or not! :) It's an awesome thought, but completely scary at the same time! Let Him teach you and mold you and use you for His purposes, and trust fully that He will take care of you. Have fun with the things He has given you, take seriously the responsibilities you've been given, and hold unswervingly to the hope you profess, for He who promised is faithful. 

      Enjoy this crazy whirlwind they call "high-school" because the older you get, the faster it goes (I'm not just saying that either.....it's true!). Sometimes it's stressful, sometimes it's full of fun, but always, where you are at is where God will use you. 


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