To our seniors,
Someone once said, “You can’t move forward without saying goodbye to the past.” It was once observed that we spend 18,720 hours of our life in school, that is, from kindergarten until our last day of our senior year in high school. In those hours, you have become accustomed to a set schedule in your life, which has been cultivated within you as a byproduct of school. Please excuse the oversimplification when I make this statement: You are about to experience the largest seismic change in your life to-date. This does not mean you should not look forward to this change, as it comes with freedom and a newly acquired happiness found in experiencing the unknown. However, you are responsible emotionally, physically, and spiritually for how you respond to this change. You are also responsible for where you are spiritually when the next stage of life comes!
I want to provide you with four truths, learned through experience, which I wish someone had relayed to me when I underwent the same seismic change in my life.
- You will be forced to make new friends. That is not to say that you will no longer speak to your friends from high school, but with a change in your stage of life comes a change in your social circle. You will experience many people, from all walks of life. Some will build you up, while some will attempt to influence your walks of life. When choosing new friends, remember the words of Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, “Evil companionship corrupts good morals.” If you allow others to determine your spirituality it will lead to drastic consequences. In your new social circle, choose friends that help you be a better Christian, by building you up emotionally and spiritually.
- Do not separate yourself from God’s people. You are at your weakest spiritually when you are away from God’s people. Why do you think Satan tempted Jesus, in Matthew 4, while they were alone in the wilderness? You are about to leave the spiritual home base you have known your entire life and be forced to build your own. In this next stage of life, do not separate yourself from the church that belongs to Christ, (c.f., Acts 20:28). Wherever you go, surround yourself with God’s people and build your new spiritual home base with them.
- If you are not spiritually grounded, you will fall away. Did you know that, some statistics say, 66% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 leave the church for at least one year? One of the greatest transitions in your life is also the time in which you are most vulnerable spiritually. You do not have to be another statistic! However, if you are not grounded in your beliefs then you will be easily swayed, and Satan will succeed in his goal of persuading you away from the church straight into Hell.
- Say goodbye to the past, but never forget the past. As Solomon wrote, in Proverbs 1:8, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father and forsake not the law of thy mother.” Do not forget the words of life that have been instilled in you by your parents. Do not forget the spiritual lessons taught to you by the elder, youth minister, preacher, or experienced Christian in your life. You have no choice but to say goodbye to the past because one cannot live in the past. We must live in the present and plan for the future! However, utilize the lessons of your past to prepare you for the future.
I want you to know that I pray for you often. I pray that you stay grounded in your faith. I pray that you forsake the ways of the world by always seeking to follow God. I pray that you do not separate yourself from God’s people, but rather surround yourself with God’s people in this new season of life. Most importantly, I pray that the bright future of our family at the Paintsville church of Christ can be realized, not only in who you are, but in who you will become as a Christian. To every graduate, I want you to know that I love you and I cannot wait to see who you become, not only in life, but also in Christ.