As millions of students head back to school this month, companies are spending millions of dollars to promote clothes, shoes, and other things that are supposed to make you feel inadequate and run out to spend more money on what you don’t have. This onslaught of corporate pressure is as a decoy to the real pressures that come with going back to school… like the pressure to fit in and feel accepted by your peers. Stores are marking prices down, but the price to fit in and be accepted in high school is skyrocketing.
Many of us have experienced transforming spiritual experiences during the summer; through camps, conferences, retreats, and mission trips we have made huge strides to grow closer to Christ – and in a sense, fatten our spiritual wallets. We’ve built up something I call “spiritual currency,” because in the same way we can save up money working a summer job, we have built up grace through our holy encounters this summer.
These encounters with Christ might begin to lose momentum as school approaches and as we catch up with people who didn’t experience our summer. This is the key moment when we’re tempted to “sell” our spiritual currency to fit in and be accepted. The price to fit in is high this first month, and you’ll be tempted to sell your integrity to fit into the party stories, to sell your chastity to fit into a relationship, to sell your morality to fit into a group of people, or to sell your dignity to avoid rejection – but beware the “Back to School” sales.
Here are five ways to keep your spirituality safe as school begins:
- Set a Spiritual Budget: Your value is in the Lord. You have worked hard to grow in virtue, so make a commitment to not join in gossip or go to parties where you know drinking will be involved. If you haven’t already, make a pack with your faith family to protect your chastity and avoid relationships that set the price of acceptance too high.
- Buy When It Matches (Your Faith): Find a group at school that matches your values and will hold you accountable to your faith. Signing up for club/group at school that will help younger students or joining a faith-based group are ways that you can wisely spend your “spiritual currency.” If your school does not have any faith-based groups, start one.
- Be Selective: Don’t just buy acceptance because it is easy, remember the commitment that Christ made to you on the cross and how He calls us to pick up our cross daily. Your cross might be standing up for those who are rejected, or resisting the temptation to tear others down. Be strong!
- Don’t shop alone: Find someone at school that shares your same love for Christ and look out for each other. Don’t be afraid to get to school early and pray together before you journey through your day. You will be surprised when you protect your “spiritual currency;” you become a witness and empower others to save too.
- Don’t lose hope: When others are over-spending to fit in around you, don’t join in. I know this is tough but the Lord says in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In other words, Christ is always with you, trust Him.
Good luck and know that I am praying for you!