For this last high school reunion, I went with pretty low expectations and left with much more than I expected.
Several people who I remembered as being distant during those difficult high school years seemed genuinely happy to see me. One woman in particular told me I was one of the people she hoped to see! And, although I clearly remember each of them, and why and in what school context I interacted with them, I struggle to have even a faint recollection of a memorable incident or occasion.
All of which made me start thinking about how we are and will be remembered, asking questions about what is, in fact, memorable about me? Will the first response upon the announcement of my death to former classmates be…
- I can’t think of one thing – good or bad – to say about her.
- I don’t really remember much about her except that she was not very memorable.
- I don’t think she was all that popular, but she seemed nice enough.
- She hung around with a group of the “meh” kids, didn’t she?
- Oh, yeah, she was in band.
Yes, I was in band. And I hung around with the kids that were not at the top or the bottom of the social pecking order – although I’m quite sure they were the ones that kept me afloat and not the other way around.
There were no honors or class superlatives connected to my name.
When it comes to my memories of me as a student, I would rather forget more than I’d like to remember. I was completely ordinary, despite all of my efforts to be something I wasn’t, even at the risk of being someone I didn’t want to be. Nothing scandalous or outrageous, mind you. I was much too fearful of repercussions for risky behaviors. But I did and tried some stuff…
As a Christian, I was no poster child. I never went out of my way to share my faith or take a chance on speaking out about Jesus and His love. I kinda kept the lid on doing or saying anything that would make others feel uncomfortable or have an excuse to leave me out of the inner circle.
Not that I was IN. Not at all. But I wanted to maintain a place as close to the perimeter as possible, just in case there was a chance to slip inside unnoticed.
And I was pretty sure that being an outspoken Christian would move me further away rather than closer to the middle.
So I kept my mediocre place pretty neutral. I didn’t laugh at the off-color stories – but I didn’t walk away. I didn’t encourage bad choices – but I didn’t discourage those cool enough to take chances.
I told myself I wasn’t hiding or ignoring Jesus. I was just making sure He’d be welcome whenever I invited him to the party.
Oh, I knew it then as well as I know it now – I wasn’t doing Him any favors.
I look back at the times I could have held Him up. Too often I betrayed Him, choosing to say nothing when I should have said everything. But I survived, as did my faith.
Now, as I contemplate the memories I have left along the way, I can’t help but wish I’d served Him better. Truth be told, I was the Plain Jane that I was, and I’m quite sure talking about Jesus would not have had the hard hit on my social life I feared. In fact, it probably would have made me more interesting as a person and a much better friend.
As for reunions? Well, first of all, I think I give God a lot less credit than He commands. It seems that, hard as I tried, He just kind of showed up in me more often than I planned.
At the ten-year reunion – you know the one when everyone tries to impress with what I’ve accomplished in the years since high school – I reconnected with a fellow Plain Jane from the orchestra. She was ordinary like me, not particularly stylish or “with it” as we would say.
But she sought me out and, after some obligatory chit-chat, just blurted out, “Are you a Christian?”
“Yes. I am.” … “Why do you ask?”
“Because I always thought there was something different about you.”
Whoa. And good golly, Miss Molly.
I could tell by her kind face and smile that different didn’t mean weird or strange.
It meant that Jesus took the crumb of high school I left for Him and made it into something sweet and memorable. It meant that even though I did my best to keep Him in my pocket, He would peek out and smile at just the right times. He ignored my carefully-laid plans to play it safe.
My lovelies, we cannot know the way we will be remembered. Hard as we try to choreograph our lives and leave a legacy of beauty and kindness or strength and honor, we will never be the boss of someone else’s memories.
But, hearing there was something different about you after all those years let me in on the secret of God’s power to get us out of our own way. No matter what we cook up to regulate His place in our lives, He will shine through the every day lives we live in front of everyone, everywhere.
How we are remembered is just as much a part of His plan as how we live. And, just like high school reunions, our lives can be so much more than we expect.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, with the prompt of “I want to live a life _____.”
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