New shoes . . .
New school supplies . . .
New teachers . . .
New classes . . .
New grade level . . .
New clothes . . .
New schedule . . .
New locker . . .
Sound familiar? The list goes on and on, but the theme is consistent, this school year isn’t that same as last years, it’s different, it’s new.
Whether you are eagerly organizing your classes with color coded folders or trying to somehow figure out how you can make the sweetness of summer last just a little bit longer, the truth is, school is back in session.
New school years for me always brought a mix of fear, excitement and anxiety. Don’t be fooled. None of my concern was about tests or academics, sports or activities (you know, the reasons we go to school.) I was concerned about things like having the perfect first day of school outfit, finding my friends at lunch, who was in my classes, and yes, which boys got cuter over the summer.
One thing I remember about high school was that there was a lot of pressure to “be somebody.” There were so many different molds to fit, so many different crowds to hang out with.
When I was in high school I had a friend who was always changing her image. One day she was sporty, the next month she was preppy, the next month she was into skateboarding. You really never knew what was next. My friend did this because she wanted so desperately to fit in, but the truth is, she wasn’t being faithful to who she was.
I think sometimes we put all of our energy in creating and recreating “images” of ourselves that are only visible on the outside. When we do this, we fail to focus on being the best person we can be on the inside, in our heart, mind and soul. The images we create of our appearances fade, but who we create on the inside shapes us for the rest of our lives.
I bet a lot of you went to camp, retreats or conferences this summer with your youth group. I am also guessing that during these experiences you encountered Christ in a new, exciting and personal way. When we encounter Christ for the first time or in a new way, it is called conversion. The thing about conversion is that we are constantly being converted closer and closer to Christ until we are with him in heaven.
When we encounter Jesus we walk away changed. It can be hard to figure out how to live out your relationship with Christ in your daily life, especially at school. I mentioned my friend who always felt the need to “recreate” her image in order to fit in with her peers. Maybe you face that temptation as well. Or maybe after your experience with Christ this summer you realized that there are areas in your life that you needed to recreate in order to live a life that is pleasing to Christ.
Wherever you find yourself, I have a challenge for you. Make this school year about giving yourself completely to Christ in order to have Him create your image. See, one of the goals in our walk with Christ is to become like Him. We don’t have to put on an “image” we just have to put on Christ, (Galatians 3:27, Romans 13:14) because He shows us who we really are.
It can be heard to live out the faith you experienced over the summer. Here are a few things to remember as you try to “put on Christ” and live out the faith you experienced this summer.
1. Jesus is present in the silence.
Retreats, conferences, and camps are awesome because everyone is on fire for their faith, there is great music and dynamic speakers. It is important to remember, sometimes we experience Jesus the most in the silence of our hearts and the simple tasks of our days, yes – even in our homework. Ask Jesus to be with you in those moments.
2. Jesus is present in the Eucharist.
Perhaps you had an amazing moment with Jesus this summer at Mass or Adoration. Here is what’s awesome; those experiences are not just one time events! Jesus is present everyday at Mass. I encourage you to go to Mass as often as possible. Many churches have Adoration chapels, it may be silent, but it is the same Jesus in Adoration that you experienced this summer!
3. Seek out Community.
One of the best ways to make sure your faith is sustained in the school year to find friends who share your faith. This is great because they can hold you accountable in your walk with faith. With friendships like these you won’t feel pressure to put on a certain image, because you share Christ in common.
4. Don’t give up.
It can be hard to live out your faith during the school year, especially after an amazing summer. Jesus knows you aren’t perfect, He sees and blesses your effort. Everyone faces difficulties in practicing their faith, don’t give up even if it gets hard! You are never alone, the saints in heaven are praying for you and remember, you have God who loves and cares for you!