Yesterday morning we celebrated the Confirmation of Faith of 5 young people at my church. 2 of them were also baptized at the same time, which I thought was pretty remarkable.
As we were leaving church the accompanist played an arrangement of the Michael W Smith song “Friends”. If you are a child of the 80’s who was raised Christian you probably know the song- it was a staple a graduations. If you aren’t familiar with it I urge you to Google it! I can’t even tell you the last time I heard this song, but I can tell you it hit me like a ton of bricks this time and brought back a ton of bittersweet memories of saying goodbye to school friends and the great times we had before then.
That is a pretty remarkable statement for me to make.
I went through an extended period passively if not actively avoiding anyone I went to high school with. I did this because I was bullied quite a bit and even my supposed “best friend” was a detriment to my self-esteem a good deal of the time. I dreaded school every day wondering what I would say or do that day that would make everyone to laugh at me. I left high school thankful I never had to go back there ever again.
For a shorter time I reacted similarly towards most folks from my Bethany Lutheran College days. I loved my time at Bethany, but a few years later left a reunion in tears, again feeling alone, unwanted and unworthy because of the reaction I got from several people when they found out I was in the midst of a divorce from the guy I had met and dated there (who is now one of my closest and dearest friends).
I’m not sharing this to make anyone feel guilty. We were all just kids back then. Also, I was struggling with depression and anxiety that no one – certainly not my parents- knew how to address. Thankfully in my late 20’s / early 30’s medical science advanced to the point where I could get the help I needed to corral those inner demons most of the time.
I’m proud to say that I’m now able to look back on being a kid in high school and in college and remember way more of the good stuff than the bad. I’m Facebook friends with tons of people from my school days. I have had several people apologize to me for their behaviors when we were young. I’ve been to 2 high school reunions and have had an amazing time at both. I did not make it to my BLC 20th reunion, but my 25th is coming up in a couple years.
To the folks I went to high school and college with I say thank you. Thank you for reminding me that what we were back then doesn’t define who we are now. Thank you for sharing the memories and the laughter. As Michael W Smith put it, “A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.”
Thank you for being my friend.