A Letter to High School Seniors

Dear Class of 2016,

First and foremost, congratulations!  I personally feel connected to your graduating class because my younger sister will be graduating from high school this year.  Over the years I have watched her and her friends grow from silly Kindergartners into well-rounded young adults.  Throughout this time I have watched this group of kids share hundreds of laughs and make tons of memories together that I’m sure they will remember for a lifetime.  However, the purpose for this letter today isn’t to give you a sappy monologue about the joys of high school; rather, we’re going to focus on why you should face the end of this chapter with a smile.

The world tells us that our senior year of high school is the most definitive time of our lives, making it seem as if it will be the one flawless year we’ll always look back and smile on.  And sure, for some people, it may possibly be.  Nevertheless, for the overwhelming majority, senior year is a vast portal of unnecessary stress, teenage dramatics, and feelings of inadequacy as kids ready themselves to face the cold, cruel world.

When I graduated from my high school four years ago, I was overjoyed with relief.  From August to June, I completed three A.P. classes, two online college classes, applied for scholarships, watched friendships begin to falter, and honestly I began to despise school.  I would dread going to my first period A.P. English class, where we were tested on the most asinine material.  I cringed every time I earned less than an 80% on tests or quizzes in A.P. Calculus, knowing any chance at a scholarship would be down the drain if my grade plummeted any further.  In fact, I hated school so much during my senior year, that I wrote a song about it.  This is the chorus, which spells out S.E.N.I.O.R.Y.E.A.R.:

Stress

Energy deficiency

No time for anything

I‘m about to scream from insanity

Or fall over and cry

Really does it have to be this hard?

Yeah this is as bad as a broken heart

Everything is coming at me

And I don’t even want to try to

Really believe that senior year is the best year there could be

As you can see, I wanted out. And those lyrics are not some of my best, so please bear with me. XD

Everyone around me had these detailed plans of going to four-year colleges and universities in order to pave the road for their dream career.  It seemed like everyone else but me was receiving scholarships in hefty sums. And there I was, unsure of what kind of career I wanted to pursue until I was filling out a college application and was forced to select something.  Finally after doing a little research, I chose to go to a local community college to earn a couple of Associate’s Degrees in Computer Information Technology, and then transfer to a local university to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems.  I felt good about my decision, and was excited when my friends asked me what my plans were for college.  That is, until I was mocked for opting to go to a community college rather than a state university, and told that the university I wanted to transfer to was for deadbeats.  Yeah, and I’m still talking about my “friends” here.

“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” -Proverbs 19:21

The truth, Class of 2016, is that even if you work as hard as you possibly can at mapping out every minute detail for college, most things aren’t going to turn out like you’ve planned.  The Facebook newsfeed of any high school graduate is an exemplary representation of this truth.   In fact, I only know of a handful of people from my high school who have truly walked the path that they set for themselves senior year. And, as hard as it may be to hear, you’ll probably lose some friends as well.

The reality of senior year, my young readers, is that no matter what plans you make for yourself, God will always be way ahead of you, equipped with better plans than you could ever imagine.  Our Father in Heaven, the Creator of the Universe, has already orchestrated the course of your entire life!  Therefore, you don’t have to bear the burden of life choices; seek God in all that you do, and He will establish His plans for you.

So keep this verse in mind when you feel overwhelmed with thoughts of the future:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
-Isaiah 55:8-9

So don’t worry, guys!  Senior year is just a fragment of your life.  God’s standing by you for an eternity if you accept His everlasting love and allow Him to have His will for your life.  And by the way, a scholarship bought with the blood of Jesus is worth exponentially more in the long run than the one you’re losing your mind over… and Jesus accepts everybody! 😀

Congratulations Class of 2016, and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

 

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Forgive and Forget

As a Christian, one of the things I have struggled with most is the art of forgiveness.  I have noticed that over the past few years especially I have had a tendency of blocking people out of my life once they do something that I don’t agree with, or do anything against me in a negative way.  And while sometimes you may need to burn a bridge to keep the crazies from running after you, a lot of times disagreements can be settled and friendships can be mended.  I have seen many friends, family members, and even people I used to attend church with come and go out of my life due to different issues that have arose.  Looking back, about ninety-eight percent of those issues could have been solved by saying a quick, “I forgive you,” and forgetting the reason for the dispute altogether.

 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” -Matthew 6:15

I’ll admit, though I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior at age 8, I never dug into the Word like I should have until last year.  Still adamant that I was right to have burned bridges in the past so to speak, when I came across Matthew 6:15, it finally hit home for me that I had not been living my life and forgiving others in the way that God instructs us to do.

See, this is where the hard part comes in.  If we have cut ties with someone who we have had a, let’s just say, a falling out with, then it can be difficult to get back in touch with that person.  Additionally, if that person has wronged us or sinned against God in such a way that we have a difficult time coping with the issue, it can be increasingly hard to forgive them for their trespasses.  Personally, I’ve been through each scenario with people in my life, and I’m just now learning to cope with it in a way that I think God would advocate.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” -Titus 3:3-6

I came across this verse last Friday while I was reading the Bible, and upon reading it I now understand that we have to approach the act of forgiving others just as Jesus did when He died for our sins on the cross.  No, I’m definitely not saying that we should crucify ourselves; Jesus paid that debt! However, Jesus didn’t overthink our sins, meaning that He didn’t ask questions or pry into our reasoning behind committing our sins.  Instead, Jesus accepted the fact that we sinned, and cleaned our slate.  The fact is, every last one of us has sinned in our lifetime, and we expect God to continually show us His grace and mercy every time we screw up.  So, shouldn’t we continually shed grace and mercy on others when they do bad things?

“But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.”
-Relient K, “Be My Escape”

It’s absolutely no secret that “Be My Escape” by Relient K is my favorite song. I first heard it about a year ago, and I’ve been blasting it repetitively ever since.  Despite the fact that I listen to it entirely too much, there was always one lyric that I didn’t understand at all… until I was listening to the song on the way to school this morning:  “But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.”  For the past year I’ve been confused about the meaning of this line, thinking that life is pretty fair considering that God sacrificed His son to pay for our sins; if unfair play is at hand, it was dealt to Jesus.  Anyway, today I thought about it from the point-of-view of the forgiver and the trespasser instead.  The trespasser has made a terrible mistake, and sometimes, though the issue can be fixed, the forgiver and the trespasser must live with the consequences of said transgression. Henceforth, though grace is shed, it’s still not fair that the forgiver in the situation still has to live with the consequences of something they had or wanted no part in.  Kinda like Jesus when He bled on the cross for us, right (even though He willingly gave His life)?

Forgiveness is hard.  Forgetting is harder.  But Jesus has done both for us millions upon millions of times, after suffering the most unfair consequences. Don’t you think we can be a little more merciful to people in our own lives?

Goodnight and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

 

Featured image found at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/370984088034993186/

Image attributed to: mybible.com

 

 

The New Kid

Imagine that there’s a new kid in town.  This new kid is thought of as unconventional, and has hoards of people mocking him.  However, the new kid is smart as a whip, and seeks to share his wisdom with others.  The only ones who know the new kid’s true potential initially are his parents and his cousin.

As time passes on, the kid makes a few friends, and grows up with them.  From adolescence into adulthood, he continues to be mocked and gawked at by the world around him.  His group of friends make efforts to fight and stand up for him, but he tells them to let it go.  The new kid, you see, is completely at ease, for he knows that his life is going to serve an amazing purpose, despite the fact that the world hates him without a cause.

The new kid speaks out against bad influences among his society, and is claimed to be a criminal. Though some remain loyal, a couple of his friends betray him by handing him over to the authorities and denying their friendship with him.  The new kid remains at ease, bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders as he faces his punishment.

The new kid is beaten, cursed at, and bludgeoned to the point of death with the whole world watching.  The new kid doesn’t mind.  Instead, he looks up to his father, blood running down his face, and asks him to forgive the crowd for their actions.   And his father forgives him, as the new kid draws his last breath, just like that.

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
-Luke 23:34

Goodnight and God bless!

-Anonymously Allyson 😀

Busy Believers: Making Time for God

WorthlessThings

College. Work. Homework. Family. Social life. Repeat.

If your schedule resembles mine, or involves even more activities, it can be difficult to find time to spend growing closer with God.  We all have responsibilities that require our full focus, yet we also need to give God our undivided attention so that we can accept His guidance.  However, though we cannot simply disregard the major facets of our lives that are taking time away from God (i.e. all of the tasks I mentioned above), we can sift through our schedules to clear out the worthless time wasters.

“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”
-Psalm 119:37

So, how can we distinguish the time wasters from the pertinent tasks?  Well, it all comes down to what you do when you’re bored:

Surefire Time Wasters:

  • Posting on or checking social media accounts:  Sure, we all love our apps, but do they really need to be checked more than once a day (hey, I’m as guilty as anyone!)? And, are we using these accounts to glorify God, our ourselves?  Hmm…
  • Being involved in drama: Drama, no matter how you initially get involved in it, can and should be avoided at all costs.  Instead of wasting your time worrying about what someone else has said or done, lift up the problem at hand to God.  As long as you’re worried about pointless drama, you won’t be focused on the omnipotent God that already has everything under control.
  • Objects of procrastination: Just like we procrastinate instead of completing our homework or doing chores, we procrastinate from spending time with God by doing other things like binge watching Netflix, checking our phones, or laying on our couch wearing sweatpants contemplating whether we should venture into the kitchen to grab some chips or take a nap (again… guilty). These “objects of procrastination” as I like to call them, are the ultimate time wasters.  God’s a little more important than a bowl of Sun Chips, guys. XD

Now that we’ve weeded out the time wasters, how can we incorporate God into our daily lives to make time for Him?  The trick is no never leave His side:

  • Pray anywhere: God doesn’t have office hours, which means that you don’t have to pray at a specific time every day.  Actually, He’s available at any time, so you have the ability to talk to Him whenever you feel like it.  It doesn’t matter if you want to reach Him late at night, or on your morning commute; He’s got the time to listen, so give Him your time.  Pray without ceasing, as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 states.
  • Devotionals: There are a multitude of daily devotional apps, books, and calendars available for daily use.  These devotionals can take anywhere from five to ten minutes to read, so they are anything but time-consuming.  Additionally, the content within the devotionals can help you realize new perspectives about your walk with God that you may not have seen otherwise.
  • Bible reading: I know, the Bible is a humongous book.  I’m not saying that you have to read the entire book in one sitting, or ten pages for that matter.  Instead, just read as much as your schedule allows.  God’s love for you doesn’t depend on how many pages of the Bible you skim over in one day; He knows that you’re making an effort to read His word, and that is enough.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33

The most important thing to realize about God is that as long as we are seeking to please Him by following His commandments, abiding by His word, and seeking His guidance, that He will recognize that.  It doesn’t matter how many hours of the day we spend on Bible reading, going to church events, or ministering to others; our attitude towards pleasing God is what ultimately matters.  One can go through the motions of all kinds of Christian activities and still be having a rough relationship with God.  So, instead of forcing yourself to go through the “proper motions”, just seek God in ways that work for you.  As long as you seek to know Him better, you’ll be just fine.

Goodnight and God Bless!

-Allyson 😀

 

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