(Edit: some of my spacing is very off and I apologize but I’m new at this and my phone is my computer at the moment.)
Dear high school class of 2019 and anybody else who knows the pressure of growing up (so, really, everybody),
It’s hard to be sure of where you are in life. Everybody’s trying to make you figure it out when, truly, you aren’t the one to decide. God says, “do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Secondly, it is incredibly easy to just assume that you can plan everything and predict the future according to your own plans. It doesn’t work that way. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could really truly do what we wanted – what we thought was best for us all the time? Yeah, but guess who’s plan is better? We put trust in ourselves but give no credit to the One who knows our whole lives cover-to-cover. The One who created our minds with the dreams of future aspirations is trying to tell us to hand our lives over to Him.
Personally, as I’m thinking about this, I’m starting to think He gives us gifts and expects us to use them for the fulfillment of His kingdom- but also as a kind of test, if you will. Is our faith string enough to let go of the dreams that we have planned for ourselves and go with God’s flow?
I’m an artist so I’ve had the privilege of knowing my line of work before some of my peers. Trying to find my place, I worked hard to be the best that I could and continue making pieces that I felt were up to a higher and higher standard than before. Each time there was a chance to set the bar higher, and my teacher let me know where I fell short. I take and apply critiques, appreciating the opinions of my classmates. My teacher knew we were on a level where we’d take each other seriously; like adults, if you will, and he’d tell me what he thought I should do.
I knew I wanted to be an inspiration. That was crazy. I mean; how, with my passion for art as my guide and not very much knowledge of art history or anything, was I expected to come up with lesson plans and worksheets, deadlines and tests? All the things I feared and dreaded in high school and now I was the one to be administering them. I want to be a teacher. By the end of junior year and the start of senior year, I realized that being a teacher was going to allow me to practice my passion as well as inspire others to practice theirs. If there ever was a perfect job description for me, that was it.
You’ve heard the phrase, “let go and let God?” It is more true than you remember. Being someone who likes to have her days in order, I worried about my future. I’ve always heard of starving artists who couldn’t provide for their homes and the condescending repetition of, “you need to have a real job.” It was easy to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to have a “real” income or any stability… I just knew I loved art and that was it. So, I worked hard.
In my hard work it was revealed to me- the reason I had consistently been producing diverse work was because I was inspired by my instructor to never stop making art. That’s another thing every artist should live by and is sometimes surprisingly hard to accomplish. You should never let “I’m too tired” or “I don’t feel like it” or “I don’t know what to make” get the better of you because it certainly will. Never stop making work.
Here I am starting college in eight days and I think about myself four years ago. I’m reminded of making friends and long nights when I cried because somebody let me down. Thinking of the good times I had and how high school is history for my friends and I, it’s hard to imagine being an unknown again.
I still believe in my Lord and Savior. I breathe Jeremiah 29:11-13(“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”) when I am unsure of life’s actions. In my testimony, I show how I thought I knew everything but God showed me He knew better- even though I should have known better than keeping Him as my last resort. God saved me from the hurtful place I had wound up in- He brought me to the love of my life, giving me my very own partner to do life with.
Crazy, scary, exciting, wonderful, beautiful, and so full of surprises is this life. We are just living day in and day out, thinking we know what the next day will bring. I’ve been there so I know you never want to let it get to the point where you think you can handle everything on your own. Humans were never meant to be alone in life. Our egos become inflated to the point where we can tell the God of the Universe that we know better than He does and it is so easy for us to do. Honestly, I do not always come to God first but I do try to. It should become a habit of ours to thank our Lord for His blessings and, in return, use these blessings to bring hope to a lost world.
Today, I will leave you with this:
You will not be the same as you are right now. The experiences in these years will bring the fondest memories as well as some hurt, but that’s just a side-effect of being human… We all fall short.
It’s important to forgive those that hurt you and move on. Madea refers to these people as “seasonal;” people who were meant to be in your life for a season, often to teach you something you needed to learn for a reason. They will wither with time but the lessons you learn from them were meant to share and make you better… I share my story to show that I have been there before and I know hurt can be taken away completely by God if you let Him in (or in my case if He intervenes.)
Grow. Don’t ever stop growing. Walk with the Lord and He WILL give you the desires if your heart. See new things, try new (good) stuff that you never have before. Most importantly, love one another and love God with all you have. People will take notice. People will ask you how you remain strong and smiling in times of hardship. They just WILL.
Work hard, live fully, and take each day as it comes. Tomorrow will take care of itself so cast all your anxieties on the One who cares for you and always wants the best for you.
Jill Edmonds: blogging newbie and starving student-artist at Anderson University.