Estimated reading time: 5 min:-)
It’s insane for me to think graduation is only a month and a half away.
I know it’s cliche to say, but time really does fly. Freshman year felt like yesterday, but I remember thinking it was the longest year of my life. Sophomore year seemed faster, but not so fast I didn’t wish it would end sooner. Then Junior year hit, and I blinked and turned into a Senior. Now, I’m scrambling to hold onto these last few weeks and what God is teaching me during this climax before I move on.
I know a lot of you reading this are close to graduation, so I hope you can empathize. But even if you can’t, I hope you can learn as I am to be thankful for each season God blesses us with.
My season at Lutheran High School changed my life. I came in a scared homeschooler who spent way too much time in her imagination and not enough time talking to real people. And I’m coming out far more confident, far more sure of my beliefs, far more ambitious and focused on the path ahead, and far closer to Christ.
Of course, I understand high school isn’t exactly a cake-walk for anyone, and some of you might say you hated your high school experience and can’t wait to get out.
But regardless, we’ve changed. We’re different people than we were four years ago.
Let me tell you a story.
About a year and a half ago, during the Christmas before Covid, I had the privilege of narrating a Christmas choir concert for my school.
There wasn’t much to it; just reading passages of scripture and commentary following, all Christmas themed. But I was honored. And terrified. I had to narrate a few concerts, and my voice sounded so loud over the speaker, I was mortified at the thought of sneezing or something into the microphone. Irrational fear, I know, but a fear nonetheless.
I wasn’t alone, though. My principal, one of the most incredible, kind people I’ve ever met (which is difficult to find principal-wise), was narrating as well. We split the passages we needed to read and alternated.
We had one rehearsal beforehand, but by the time opening night came, I was pretty nervous. My hands were shaking the whole time and I couldn’t get them to stop. I look back at it now and laugh, because since then I’ve learned so much more about public speaking, but at the time I was mortified.
Just minutes before the performance, my principal joined me behind the stage and took his place in front of his mic, hidden from the crowd. We had these cool little lights to guide our reading. Then I saw him take out a pen and write these two words on each page he had to read:
“Jesus” and “Slow.”
I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but he explained to me what he was doing.
“Sorry (more like Soary. If you know, you know;), I know this might look strange,” he said. “My mother taught me this trick a long time ago. Whenever I have to do any public speaking, I write these two words on my paper to keep me focused. ‘Slow’ helps me to slow down, breathe, and speak well to the audience. ‘Jesus’ reminds me what is most important, what I should be focusing on the entire speech. It’s helped my public speaking ever since, thanks to my mother.”
My principal, by the way, is one of the best public speakers I’ve ever heard. I remember thinking: Is this the secret sauce to a good speech? But it was much more than that, I realized later.
The concert was a success. I wrote “Jesus” and “Slow” on my own papers, and my nervousness melted away. I thanked my principal for the advice and and congratulated my friends in choir for their incredible talents.
That night, I drove home having the feeling I had just learned something that would stick with me forever. You know that feeling? The feeling you’ve just glimpsed something profound but haven’t quite grasped it yet? The feeling it’ll come back later?
Well, “Jesus” and “Slow” did come back. And I’ll tell you how.
Recently, my principal, the same one as before, had to take a few days off. I didn’t think much of it—teachers leave every once in a while for reasons of their own—until I learned the reason for his absence: his mother passed away.
Right away, what I’d learned nearly years ago came back to me: “Jesus” and “Slow.” The public speaking tip my principal had learned from his mother and taught me. That small connection taught me volumes about her and Christ. About life. And I knew heaven had gained a wonderful woman, even though I never met her.
You see, “Jesus” and “Slow” taught me a far greater lesson about life than I thought.
The closer I get to graduation, the crazier life gets. Tryouts for soccer are nearly two weeks away, and I need to get conditioned beforehand. Far Below Human Eyes is officially released on April 27, so I’m also preparing for that. School is winding up and my service hours still need some work. The musical is just weeks away, and graduation is right around the corner. Prom is approaching as well. Life is crazy.
But far be it from me in this craziness to forget Christ.
Far be it from me in these few, insane weeks, to not slow down and breathe. Because if I don’t, I’ll blink and miss it all. And I can’t rewind life.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to count as lost, a time to keep and a time to discard, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
I think in the chaos, sometimes I wish I could skip to summer. Rush over all this madness and move on to a more peaceful time. I know a lot of my friends can’t wait to go to college; they just want to skip right to it. And I’m just as excited to move on, grow up and dive into my career as an author.
But this season isn’t over yet.
This season of goodbyes, of shifting friendships, of finales and hard work and short nights and long days and working hard and crying and laughing all in the same day—this is the season I’m in. Right now.
God wants me here. And not just here, surviving through the end of a crazy season, but living it, keeping my eyes open to what he has to show me. Trusting him through all the chaos. Looking for Jesus everywhere. Because He’s there. Everywhere.
Far be it from me to miss Jesus because I’m too focused on the future.
Far be it from me to look back in ten years and wish I appreciated high school more. Took it slower.
So for my high school friends, write “Jesus” and “Slow” on the pages of your life. Remember to slow down and look for Jesus today, not in the summer, not in a few months. Now.
And for those in different seasons, write “Jesus” and “Slow” on the pages of your life as well. Look for Jesus in the chapters you’ve already read. Look for Jesus in the words being written right now. And slow down enough to see Him.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” ~ Jeremiah 29:13.
“The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.” ~ Psalm 14:2.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” ~ Psalm 19:1-2.
“Jesus” and “Slow” are my anthems over the next few weeks. And I hope I’ll be singing them for the rest of my life:-)