Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Remembering High School Grad

NLCC Grads 2013
My 10-year high school reunion is coming up this summer, and it has me feeling all sorts of nostalgic. A decade ago, I sat in the pavilion of the Tacoma Dome, waiting for my name to be called from a list of about 200 students graduating from Bellarmine Prep.

If I close my eyes and think back to those times, I have all sorts of memories from high school, images conjured up from the past:
High School Joel

  • Playing drums at football games and assemblies, alongside Pete, an incredibly talented and rigidly disciplined percussionist who had a snarky sense of humour before that was considered hip. There were four drummers in our high school band: Pete, Tim, Kevin, and myself. The others were all 6-feet tall or larger; I hovered around 5' 4'' until my senior year, earning me the nickname "Mouse."
  • The crushes I had on various girls for various seasons. I could name their names, but I've done that once before on this blog, and it got awkward.
  • The embarrassing moment giving a presentation in sophomore year English that led to me not taking public speaking class until my final semester of my senior year. It literally took an act of God to give me the gift of teaching/preaching and call me into youth ministry, where I now spend the majority of my time communicating to teenagers. God has a sense of humour.
  • Taking the SATs and feeling dumb for being friends with Cameron Gibelyou, Michael Baine, and a variety of others who actually got perfect scores.
  • The Junior Encounter and Senior Pilgrimage, two spiritual journeys that my Jesuit high school did for us that I (regrettably) didn't take as seriously as I should have. Once again, the irony that I would be planning and leading similar retreats as a central part of my job and vocational calling is not lost on me.
  • The day 9/11 happened, which was Maureen Trantham's birthday. I remember eating lunch with her and a group of friends, and it was strange to go about our days, knowing the tragedy that was happening across the country.
  • I went to kindergarten with a few of my fellow grads: Chelsea McNerthney, Paul Miller, Kiel Shaub, Lauren Whitham, Holly Zuluaga. Facebook keeps us updated about each others' lives, but I haven't seen many of these folks since graduation. (Paul came to my wedding, and I still love the guy. Best friends in elementary and high school!)
  • Favourite bands: Radiohead, Jimmy Eat World, and Relient K. Favourite movies: The Matrix, Jurassic Park, and Dumb and Dumber. Some of these haven't changed.

Grad Gifts: The Way Bible and a College Survival Kit (mug, ramen noodles, instant coffee, laundry detergent packets, pen, list of recipes for making food in a microwave)
As the graduating class of 2013 is about to embark on the journey into emerging adulthood, it's important for me to remember what it felt like to be in high school, to recall the excitement and energy and fear and insecurity and hopes and passions and dreams. It's important to remember where you've come from and empathize with those who currently are where you once were. More than anything, it's important to remind these grads of their identity in Jesus, who loves them and guides them and is graciously writing their story.

Remember: what were you like in high school? Who were your friends? What did you spend your time doing? What were you experiencing emotionally, relationally, and spiritually?

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