You Are Not Your High School Self And Neither Are They
We are all grown adults right? And yet the idea of a high school reunion can put us right back into those bad hair days and “What Was I Thinking” outfits and role playing conversations in our heads as we try to make our lives sound important and accomplished…..Or maybe that’s just me.
It’s like all the growing and living and learning we have done since we graduated vanishes in a puff of smoke and we forget how to have a conversation, feel completely inept and inadequate, and have the raging comparison dragon inhabiting us once again. (Although in the era of Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram it's a constant struggle, right?).
I graduated just over 15 years ago (Wow do I feel old typing that out!) and my class has never had a reunion. Despite the fact that we had two Presidents and two Vice Presidents. (Don’t ask me why. Was it a tie or something? I have no idea!). In case you are unfamiliar with reunion procedure, the President and VP are the ones who are supposed to organize it.
But, a couple months ago, we had a lovely classmate, Kym Williams organize an impromptu get together at the Ocotillo Restaurant and Bar in downtown Phoenix.
Ummm….super cool, right? I’m glad she picked. We would have ended up at Chipotle or something if I’d tried to plan it!
As it was approaching, I realized I was actually feeling excited about it but that if this had happened 5 or even 10 years ago, I would have been way less comfortable in my own skin and probably had a lot of trouble just being me.
I would have been looking at everyone else’s lives and thinking “Maybe I should have done that too. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough or get out there enough, or go after other opportunities and I missed out.” Oh the FOMO!!
When I pulled up to the Ocotillo, it was just as cool as it looks in the pictures. They had a huge outdoor seating area, fireplace, grass section, wood beams, and just a general great atmosphere.
I saw Kym and her husband sitting at one of the benches and immediately struck up an engaging conversation about what we’ve been doing, her photography business (she’s so talented!), my writing, her husband’s journey to an Air Force career, and the creative life.
One by one, others trickled in, only ten of us total, but not a bad turnout considering our graduating class was only sixty odd people. It was a small Christian school but our class was tiny even by their standards!
It was such a lovely time and in some way almost redeeming. As if it rescued us from being stuck in the annals of history in everyone else’s memory. Frozen in time as a teenager. Ugh!
The person I was in that period of my life has come forward in time with me. God has used the trials, hardships, burdens, and heartbreak that I have gone through since to work things out of me and build things into me.
And now I can see that it has happened for others too. We have all grown, matured, gone forth with building lives and learning who we are and how to use our gifts and our unique makeup.
Kym is a talented photographer now in Cheyenne (take a look at her beautiful portfolio!) Laurel opened her own gym. (I love her vision for it. If you live in the Central Phoenix area you should check it out!). One of the girls is the high school counselor at our old high school. Two others ended up working at the same company. Another girl is a pilot and yet another is opening her own dental practice. It was so fulfilling to see the journey that life had taken them on, the things they were doing, and the families they were creating.
We sat and looked at yearbooks and groaned at our hairstyles, and our clothing choices, and talked about who knew where such and such was and how they were doing. We remembered people that had gotten lost in our memory and the ones that passed through this life.
I came away from that mini reunion with more grace for my old high school self and everyone else as well. And with that grace came a bit more freedom.
I have more compassion now for the old Heather, but she also lost some of her ghostly hold on me. I can see her with more objective eyes and some of the strings of those “old things”, shame, embarrassment, wounds that were still winding like little sticky vines to my heart, lost their grip.
We can make peace with our old selves.
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things are cast away and behold all things are made new."
2 Corinthians 5:17
"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
We don’t have to hold on to them and bind ourselves to them. We don’t have to let them whisper shame or guilt, or condemnation in our ears.
"It is for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."
God tells us not to go back to the bondage. To stand firm in the freedom He has won for us. And yet it can be such a hard thing to do.
"...past sin, past flaws, past wickedness. Nothing we have ever done in the past and nothing we will ever do in the future can change the way God sees us....The process of growing a stronger self-image is not a one-time action, but it is a progressive strength. The more we practice thinking about God's unconditional love and acceptance, the easier it is to blow off the critics."
Whether those critics are people around you, or the whispers and lies from your old self pointing out all your flaws, failures, and sins, knowing who you are in Christ and standing on God's truths will help you cast them aside and move forward in freedom.
So let’s have some grace and compassion for our old selves as well as our present selves and for others. We don’t know where people are coming from and everyone is continuously growing and changing.