I remember walking into my economics class my senior year in high school, wondering how in world it was possible that I had no one to sit with. I had, after all, grown up in this small town and had known most of these kids since kindergarten, yet not a soul in the room was watching the door expectantly, waiting for me.
I made it through a year of senior dinners and parties, field trips and lasts that I celebrated with no one. By the time graduation rolled around, I was so happy to be released from an embarrassingly solitary year of being thrown together at every turn with people who had each other but didn’t seem to want me.
I don’t blame my classmates. Chances are it was my own Pharisaical attitudes that had landed me in this lonely spot. I was extremely zealous for the Lord and was terribly serious about not stepping one toe out of line. I was known as a goody two-shoes, and I wore that label like a badge of righteousness. I was proud and probably much too arrogant. I doubt I was all that fun to be around. But by God’s grace, despite my pride and my overblown ideas of how much God “needed” me, I left high school with my devotion to the Lord in tact, and with a sense that my life was finally beginning.
A few months later my parents dropped me off at the small Baptist college where I would grow and thrive and have fun, where I would make the most precious friends, and where I would meet the only love of my life. It turned out that there were lots and lots of people like me. There were kids out there who cared about the things of God, whose lives were built on the foundation of His mercy and goodness. I had spent my final year of high school grieving the fact that I was misunderstood and isolated. Then God poured out His blessings in ways that I couldn’t even have imagined, in the form of Christian kids who were serious about their faith, who had far outgrown me in righteousness and sincerity and biblical knowledge.
And now here I am, twenty years later, and my first-born is a few weeks into her high school career. She, too, is learning about the sometimes cost of following Jesus. About the lack of people who understand you. She finished an assignment for her English class last week, a video project where she was asked to choose a poem to read and then discuss in relation to her own life and experience. She chose “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
In it, Frost famously describes two paths that he came across in the woods one day, confessing that he chose to take the one that has been less traveled by, “and that has made all the difference.” For Adelade, the correlation seems obvious. She is on the narrow path, the path that leads to life. It, too, is the road less traveled. In the video she sits in front of a white wall in her grey over-sized New York sweatshirt, and says of this way of life, “Sometimes it means you don’t have many friends because you don’t want to do things that dishonor God.” This, coming from a girl who walked into her high school on the first day of school knowing that no one would be looking for her. It’s a hard place to be. Yet, she goes on to talk about the peace and joy that comes from following Christ.
I keep telling her that her people are out there. And they are. They may even be in the halls of her high school right now, people that the Lord is moving and changing and molding even as He continues to move and change and mold Adelade and me. I know He is working because He always is.
So, you, lonely high school student, follow Jesus and keep living according to His word. Be radical if you need to. But don’t ever think that you are alone, because your people are most definitely out there.
On See You at the Pole day this past week, youth ministry expert Dr. Richard Ross posted this idea on Facebook:
“One student praying—may feel weak. But swept up in a worldwide student prayer movement—strong.
One student living in sexual holiness alone—weak. Part of a worldwide movement—strong.
But students cannot be drawn into movements their leaders don’t mention.”
High schooler, consider this your notification: there are students all over this world who are fully dedicated to loving Jesus through obedience. You aren’t alone, even though you may feel like it. Your people are out there, and when you find them, get ready for some of the greatest blessings that God gives. High school is so much shorter than it feels. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and be patient, always remembering that the road less traveled leads to true fulfillment.