I’m having another youth group grad over for dinner tonight. This is something my husband and I both agreed to as we got married. He was a Junior High Pastor at the time and we continued to see the digression of students attending church post high school. I knew this pattern as it was my own.
I remember thinking that once I got married and started a family, we’d then go to church because it was important for me to raise my family with Christian values. It was a forethought but not a present priority. So Eric and I agreed that we would do our best to remain in these student’s lives- encouraging them in Christ, attending their basketball games, cheering on their performances and art shows, moving them into their college dorms, being listed as a reference for their hopeful employer.
Each of these young people have fundamental value and indispensable worth, and it has been our great pleasure to accompany them into adulthood.
I think back and can remember her shy disposition as she made her way into the junior high youth room, scouring the scene for familiarity and acceptance. The leap from a large Children’s Ministry building into the smaller, teenage-only portable was vulnerable. Where did she fit in this new space? Who were her go-to’s? What would set her back from engaging?
What would propel her forward in growth? That was 8 years ago but this is the same narrative, over and over in our lives. With every transition, be it a school grade or location, a new job, a new relationship, we are confronted almost too suddenly with change. Whether we are ready for it, prepared to the brim with knowledge and confidence, or shaking in terror, it presents itself like the rising of the sun.
Today, she is known and continues to move forward. She has a supportive family, a gift of poetry and humor. She attends a local junior college and will be moving out of state to further her education at the end of summer. But there is also a battle waging for her soul. It’s the same battle waging for yours and mine.
It’s recognized by news feeds on certain social platforms. It’s heard in both verbal and virtual disagreements over faith and status and sexuality. There is a strong urge, a wave of gigantic proportions billowing to take you out and under. But there is also a Savior who controls the tides. There is One who has always been and will always be with you, moving you and guiding you towards a good and perfect plan.
As you graduate and the newness is upon you, take heart, my friends. Take heart in He who has overcome, in He who offers justice and peace and strength to you.
Here are 8 things I hope you know you as you graduate:
- You belong here. You are needed in our churches today. Your voice and your gifts and your influence is needed in the spaces, in the corners and pockets of church buildings, small group outings and intergenerational teaching. If the space is not provided for you, be encouraged to make one. Settle in and group up. You have so much to teach us and we welcome you.
- You are more than your likes on social media. You don’t have to perform or please or bow at the feet of Instagram. You are worthy and you have always been enough. Book recommendation: https://smile.amazon.com/Gifts-Imperfection-Think-Supposed-Embrace/dp/1491513713/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528233042&sr=1-7&keywords=you+are+worthy
- Google doesn’t know everything but God does. Go to Him first.
- Plug in and prioritize. There are incredible on-campus, non-cheesy activities through organizations like CRU and InterVarsity. Book recommendation: https://www.ivpress.com/browse/christian-living/all-christian-living?page=13
- The truth of Jesus will set you free. That is an eternal promise.
- You don’t have to go into crazy debt just because you’re an adult. Learn from the generations ahead of you and the mistakes we’ve made. Set yourself up for success here and let the Uber Of Finances help you out, https://smile.amazon.com/Financial-Peace-Revisited-Chapters-Marriage/dp/0670032085/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1528232924&sr=8-7&keywords=dave+ramsey
- You have options. Your college years don’t have to be skewed by partying. I don’t know why this is a thing, but unfortunately it is in our culture. Learn to navigate well and surround yourself with similar world-changers.
- You were created for such a time as this. Your presence here is perfectly timed. Your gifts are uniquely your own. Your big, open, purposeful life continues and we are rooting for you!
More book recommendations for graduates and young adults:
After College: Navigating Transitions, Relationships and Faith