For those of you who have graduated high school, the moment you first saw your cap and gown is likely a moment you still remember. You can recall how you felt the first time you tried it on and the moment your mom or dad cried a little when they saw you wear it. When I was a high school senior, I remember thinking “How am I graduating already?” and “Did I really pass?”
Yet those are the emotions and memories a lot of high school seniors will not experience this year.
There are very few moments in life when I can recall that life as I knew it seemed to stand still. Breaking my leg was one of those moments, as was the day I said “I do” to my bride (seven years and three kids ago). Now many high school seniors are feeling this way. They woke up one morning and life as they knew it was not the same—and it wouldn’t be the same for the remainder of their senior year. Some felt joy, some anger. Some felt scared, unaccomplished, robbed, and disappointed. Even now, mixed emotions are battling in their hearts and minds. While not exhaustive or complete, here are a few ways you can help the high school seniors you know.
- Don’t tell stories about your high school graduation day. That is not helpful right now. Seniors are processing a lot and trying to write their own story. Simply listen to them.
- Ask them how they are dealing with all this change. What thoughts and feelings are going through their heads? It is normal to have mixed emotions, so help seniors navigate them by showing you genuinely care and are there to support them.
- Parents, this one is for you: Once social restrictions are lifted, gather family and friends to host a special graduation ceremony for your student, something more than just an open house. Make it special and unique for your senior.
- Don’t let the negative frustrations control your conversations with high school seniors you know. Try to find positive outcomes to the situation—while being careful not to merely dismiss their disappointment. This is a hard line to walk, but it will prove helpful.
- Text a senior you know to tell them you are praying for them. Give them truth to rehearse and point them to Jesus.
- Lastly, help seniors think biblically. God can measure the waters in the hollow of his hand and mark off the heavens with his wingspan (Isa. 40:12). Therefore, what is happening is not out of his sight. While everything around us might be changing, we can know that God’s Word never fades—it stands forever.
My gut reaction to most things is to fix them, and trust me, I want to fix this. However, Isaiah 40:30-31 says, “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
What an encouraging promise that is. Although high school seniors may feel devastated, this is but a moment in time. As they navigate this shift in their lives, we can help them remember that the Lord has not abandoned them—he is with them through it all, and if they wait on him, he will renew their strength.