I recently found an old friend from high school and I decided to reach out to her. This isn’t something that I would typically do, since most of the kids I remember from high school were not friends that would be uplifting to have in my life right now. I thought it might be helpful to contact this particular friend, though, because she was always an anchor during my tumultuous adolescence. She was that girl that always respected her mom, did her chores, studied diligently, and followed the rules. She was the girl that I should have been spending more time with rather than hanging out with the kids that smoked while they were cutting class (at least, until they dropped out of school altogether).
I had no doubt in my mind that she went on to be successful in life and I thought she might be happy to learn that I’ve been surprisingly successful, too. I was looking forward to meeting her for coffee. Then, I learned that she recently moved far away.
Initially, I felt bad for postponing my contact with her for so long. Maybe if I had reached out sooner, we could have reunited.
Despite the move, she did answer my email. But I could sense that she was a little hesitant.
Remembering the other kids we went to high school with, I shared many details of my current life to reassure her that I wasn’t like them. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t be eager to meet for coffee. Who doesn’t need another Mocha?
Then I had a huge realization.
I AM that kid from high school that you wouldn’t want to reconnect with. I AM that kid from high school that I wouldn’t even want to talk to again.
I’m that kid that cut class and started smoking when I was 14 years old. I’m that kid that talked back to teachers and wore the tightest, smallest shirt I could find. (usually belonging to my toddler sister). I’m that kid that came home drunk and I’m that kid that would run down the street while my mother pelted me with insults and obscenities. I’m that kid that couldn’t have friends over because I never knew when my mom’s mental illness would take over and she would have an embarrassing or violent outburst. I’m that kid that got kicked out of the house when I was 15 years old. I’m that kid that barely graduated high school.
It’s a very sobering insight to look at my self that way, but it reminds me of the mistakes I’ve made and how much I have achieved. I truly believe that we all have trials and life experiences for a reason. Maybe my reason is so I can understand and help my own adolescent bonus daughters. Or maybe the reason is so I can relate to my Teenage Sunday School class. Or maybe the reason is so I can truly appreciate God’s grace and his forgiveness.