I attended my 25-year college reunion this past weekend. My husband, a graduate of a different university, was a real trooper and went with me. As I process the experience—and catch up on missed sleep—I see that the essence of who I was then is still at the heart of who I am today.
As a high school student, I remember looking forward to college as a fresh start. I was the lone person from my class to head to the University of Dayton. I imagined it would be liberating to be free from others’ expectations of me based on the person they knew in my high school years.
Yet, throwing off others’ expectations didn’t change me. Sure, I was in a new setting, with new people and new experiences, so even I didn’t know how I’d handle different situations. And, yes, I changed and grew through my years of college. But who I am now is certainly in line with the person I was then.
I think that’s something to celebrate. While I still struggle with some of the same things that challenged me about myself back then, I believe the consistency of both the good and not-so-good indicates that I’m growing into the person God created me to be. I must credit my parents, teachers, and friends for helping provide me with the firm foundation on which I’ve built my life. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the youth ministers of my high school years who helped me to grow in a personal relationship with Jesus as a friend.
If you’re in a position to support and guide a teen—as a mentor, Confirmation sponsor, family member, or friend—know that your opportunity for influence is great. If you want some practical advice and guidance for this relationship, I suggest the book When a Teen Chooses You by Joseph Moore. It’s recently been revised and expanded from its earlier version.
And, if you get the chance to attend a reunion this year—college, high school, elementary school, or family—I encourage you to do so! Keeping in touch with the people and places of our past experiences can help us get in touch with the persons God calls us to be.