I was blessed to have a very unusual high school experience.
I know many others could not say the same. When I look back on those years, I truly believe God used every incident to produce habits in my own life for years to come. For that, I am forever grateful.
I went to a very small Christian high school that was a part of our church ministry. The friendships that were forged are the kind that last a lifetime. One thing about those years that really stands out in my heart and mind is this~
I never felt alone.
I felt loved by a community of believers and friends who always had my back. Through grief they comforted. When I fell away from God, they lovingly picked me up. When I laughed, they laughed with me. When I cried, they held me close. When God moved in hearts, we celebrated together.
There was never a feeling of loneliness, unworthiness or judgment. I never felt the need to be something I was not.
Many years have passed since I was that impressionable teenager. Sadly, through the years a few people have now and then made me feel like I didn’t quite measure up.
I know that I am not alone in this area, and yet it’s an incredibly lonely feeling.
There have been times I have fallen away from God and felt shame. Times I would never dream of sharing my failures with others, or even ask for help because of that shame. I was all too familiar with the inevitable reaction of shaking heads and disapproving judgment.
There have been times I find myself knee deep in the insecure feelings of “not good enough”, convinced that I’m doing it wrong, saying it wrong, writing it wrong or sharing it wrong. Convinced that everyone else has their act together and knows what they’re doing in their Christian walk, except for me. Convinced I should be someone else. A much better version of me.
What have we become? Why are so many churches filled with people that look the part but have no empathy or compassion for others? Who continually find the speck of wrong doing in others, but can’t even see the log homes of pretense they themselves are building? (Matthew 7:1-5) Churches filled with people, often women, who make others feel “less than” and alone.
Our church communities should not be this way. I have found that many churches tend to lean one way or the other. Too many churches are made up of people playing a part. People who look down on others who don’t outwardly measure up. The Bible calls them Pharisees. (Matthew 23:25-28) On the other hand there are churches filled with people who share the “come as you are” mantra, but don’t follow through with biblical teaching on how to grow beyond where they linger. There is no solid ground of repentance and forgiveness, encouragement and change. It’s all just a “feel good” atmosphere. The Bible calls this the seeds that have fallen on stony places. (Matthew 13:4-9, 18-23) Both can leave a person feeling very alone.
Jesus never intended any of this to be our reality.
What was my high school reality? I can remember a friend sharing scripture with me on the bus ride to a basketball game. I was going through uncertainty, and she lifted me up with God’s words. When I found out my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, I can remember the comfort I felt in the embrace of a friend as she held me in silence and allowed me to cry. I can remember a group of us sharing tears of joy in the bathroom after a revival service at our church. I can remember testimonies of God’s working in front of bonfires. I can remember sharing the gospel with a new student and friend in an empty room off of the church sanctuary, and her prayer asking Jesus to save her. I can remember that Jesus was real to us, and we were real with each other.
What habits did my high school years teach me? That we could be truthful without feeling “less than”. That we could share in the good without the worry that others would think we were bragging. That we could cry without being made to feel weak. That we could share our struggles without condemnation. That we could talk about God without feeling like others viewed us as trying to appear “better than”.
That we could be real.
Real and never alone.
Just like Jesus taught.
Just like Jesus was here on earth~
and still is today.
That should be our reality.
A fellow sister in Christ should never feel alone. We should have each others backs instead of sticking knives in them. We should lend a hand when they fall, and give our heart when they’re hurting. We should rejoice when they rejoice, and weep when they weep. (Romans 12) We should reach down and lift them up. We should be the hands and feet of Jesus, and have the heart of Him who saved us from the wretched sinners we all are. (Romans 3: 10, 23)
Somehow I think too many forget that part.
Today, search your hearts. Look into someone’s eyes and tell them it’s going to be okay. Give them your hand and your heart and lift them up. Share God’s words of love with them.
Empowerment as women should not be our goal.
Making sure that others never feel alone should be our calling.
Just like Jesus.
A habit we should never, ever forget.