My advice to those of you in or entering high school would be:
1. Be careful who you surround yourself with and how much of an influence you let them have over your life.
While I was in high school I found out quickly that everyone has an opinion to share and not all of them are Christ-centered/focused. I made many amazing friends throughout high school but there were some whose beliefs about life and the world were not similar to mine or what God and the Bible would say and I faced the balance of being careful how much I let their opinions influence me. A lot of the advice I was given from these friends was to respond in a way that
would be understandable to the world and our culture today, but that advice, while given with good intention was not something that pointed back to Christ. With that said, it became easy to listen to their opinions but God taught me that influencing them and being a light in their life should be my focus rather than letting them influence me.
2. God has a purpose and plan even when you can’t see it and trusting Him is important.
One of the biggest lessons, if not the biggest lesson, that I learned in high school was that God has a purpose even when I can’t see it. God knows every part of you and your heart and, ultimately, He knows the best way to stretch and grow you and the best way to deepen your faith. He knows how to test you and grow you, but that also requires trusting Him. This was not an easy lesson to learn and so much happened in high school that I did not understand and often I did not see why God would allow it. However, trusting that His plan is better, while hard at times, has definitely opened my eyes and made me more willing to see that in the end, He did have a bigger plan and picture than what I could see in the moment. Definitely remember that God’s intent is to draw you closer to himself and grow you spiritually and He will not ever put something in your life that will not teach you. With that should come a willingness to be taught and to learn which, while it can also be a struggle, is something that is beautiful.
3. Prayer is extremely important; not just self-focused prayer, but thanking God and praying for others.
There were several points throughout my time in high school when I would feel myself get overwhelmed and stressed. Whenever that happened, I would find myself looking toward myself and, at times, selfishly I would only pray to God and ask for Him to solve the next problem or thing that I was facing. Bringing your prayer requests to God is never a bad thing (in fact, He wants you to be open and come to Him) but our focus is also important to consider. For example, because I was so focussed on the next problem I was facing and asking for help on that, I failed to sit back and think about how many things God had already helped me with. I failed to thank Him and appreciate what He had already done. After seeing this, I realized that taking time to see what He had already done made me more at peace than I had been before. I also noticed that when I was focused less on myself and started praying for others more than I had in the past, I was more at peace. God definitely grew my heart closer to Him through constant prayer.
Practical ways to live out these things:
Have conversations with God and let Him know what you are going through! He wants to hear it! Also, be sure to thank Him for what He has been doing, even if it is a simple need that He met throughout your day. Thanking Him takes the focus off of yourself and allows you to appreciate even more what He is already doing in your life. Praying for others (even when they haven’t asked specifically for prayer) is a way that I have found that has made me focus less on myself and be more willing to see how I can help others. Practically, prayer can be anytime you are free whether it’s sitting alone in a room or even on the drive to school or work.
2. Be involved in the youth group!
Youth group is a creative way to build a group of friends who will push you to follow after God and deepen your faith. As I mentioned earlier, being surrounded by so many opinions that don’t push you toward Christ is hard. I do believe that by developing so many friendships in the youth group with people who push me to chase after God has helped me deepen my faith in so many ways. Also, hearing the lessons every week has been a great tool (while I haven’t always used them perfectly) to help me look at my life with a critical eye and see parts that I needed to fix.
3. Be in the Word.
This was something that I know you have probably heard before and it is something that was told to me all throughout high school. It is so true though and being in the word helps you to be grounded in what God says about you rather than what the world says about you. Knowing truth and God’s heart for you is the best way to combat the lies that the world will present. Also, another important part of being in the Word, is being willing to learn from it. It is one thing to read your Bible every day, but it will bring you so much closer to the Lord spiritually if you are willing to let God teach you through His Word.
4. Make lists and pray through them.
Praying through things has been a huge part of my walk with the Lord. Often times I would get overwhelmed with school, my social life, and commitments I had made. Writing out these things and then praying through them helped me in so many ways and knowing that I had not only been able to recognize what was causing the stress, but also that God knew about it too helped not completely erase, but definitely ease the stress.
With all of this said, these were lessons that God taught me (sometimes the hard way) throughout high school. Keeping Him center of my life was not something that I did perfectly in any way, but it is my hope that those of you in high school and those of you who are entering high school will consider these things and see this stage of your life as a time to be willing to be taught, grown, and stretched. The book of Psalms has been a huge encouragement to me as it is filled with the testimonies of so many who struggled in their walk with the Lord but ultimately were able to be taught through their struggles and be drawn closer to God. God has so much that He can teach you and it is my hope that you will be willing to grow.
Maggie is a graduating senior in our HBC youth group. She has a passion for serving the Lord and modeling the gospel life well to her peers.