Summer has arrived and is in full swing. The beaches are crowded, the malls are jam-packed, and every night is like a sleepover. I remember those months as a school-aged girl well. You count down those minutes as the time drags by slower than water boils. Finally the clock signals the school bell and you run out of the double doors rejoicing and searching for the nearest ice cream store.
I am far removed from high school, but working in a school for a period of time had me reliving all those memories. This year has been especially hard for high schoolers. Perhaps you have been part of a terrifying lockdown that was only a drill, but in the moment you had no idea what was going on. Maybe, even worse, your situation was not a drill and you are now living with the haunting memories of the day your school was on the news and classmates and teachers were running toward the same double doors for their lives. It is a scary situation, but you are the brave ones.
This past school year, I was in three lockdowns here in south Florida, very close to the events that took place in Parkland. I can tell you with certainty it was one of the scariest spans of time in my life. Every passing month tested my faith. Each day as I walked the hallways, I was silently searching for places my students and I would hide. The high school I graduated from even tasted this fear firsthand when shots were fired inside the very hallways I used to walk down—never thinking twice about a school shooting. I remember laughing during emergency drills we had as we hid underneath desks because the threats of an active shooter were about as real as a snowstorm here in Florida.
I got angry with God for a few weeks. I asked Him why He would let something so terrible happen. I questioned Him and wondered how in the world anything good could ever come out of such devastation. The school I worked at soon started to look more like a prison than a place of learning. But for the first few weeks, before all the riots and yelling started, there was such a unity and sense of love in our community.
I have found that we waste our breath on asking “Why?” Why would God allow such tragedy? Why didn’t someone stop the shooter? Why are gun laws not different? I cannot answer these questions or even try to make sense of the situation. All I know is God is sovereign. I sat alongside families as we cried together and hugged one another even though we’d never met. Empathetic looks were exchanged between neighbors that did not need words to express deep emotion and feelings. It’s as if all of us without words were deeply sighing me, too.
We all feel it. We all sense the heaviness and darkness. Darkness will not win. Fear will not win. It’s not our job to ask why; it’s our job to trust and be there for those who are hurting. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, NKJV). Be the good in the world: be what your high school so desperately needs.
These years are a pivotal time in every person’s life. Some enter the doors every day trying to learn and make grades worthy of a college acceptance and some do just enough to get by. Every football game, pep rally, and lunch mean so much to you because at the time, that’s all you have. You try so hard to fit in and find your place because a major part of your world is really your high school campus for those four years. Every single moment matters. There is still an innocence and a freedom that fades away in the days after your diploma. It’s those days before you enter the “real world” and wish for the “good ole’ days” again. I remember my time in high school like it was yesterday because in a way it was. Yesterday I used something I learned inside those classrooms.
Yesterday I woke up and went to a job that my high school education helped prepare me for. I miss those hallways, those friendships, and those days when my concerns were about as big as a textbook. Embrace that and please don’t rush the process. I know it seems hard right now, but don’t let the fear overtake you. This seems larger than life, and in some ways it is, but do not give up hope. You are still a light. You can still help lead your fellow classmates to Jesus. Now more than ever, they need to know what real, Christlike love looks and feels like. You have what they need, and even though going to school might feel like stepping into a warzone, God has empowered you and is defending you. I realize it doesn’t seem like it, but there is still good out there.
The answer is not in another riot or Twitter rant. I know it might go against what a lot of people think, but you aren’t going to find solutions in another march or by lying on grocery store floors. It may be the unpopular opinion, but prayer still works. Yes, people do bad things and yes we should take every precaution to make sure things like this don’t happen again, but my heart hurts for the disunity that is rising in a time we need unity most.
High school student, whether you are just about to be a freshman or you are entering your senior year soon, don’t be afraid. Let your light shine even brighter when you cannot seem to navigate the darkness. God is still on the throne and this too shall pass. Start that P7 club, pray for your school, befriend the classmate who sits alone at lunch and feels like no one likes them. Take the authority you have and stand for truth. You are the hands and feet of Jesus, and you have all the resources to change the world, to change your school, and even to change just one life that Heaven will rejoice over.
This summer, take sometime to recharge, refocus, and be refreshed. I read something recently that said, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Perhaps that what you need to do. Unplug from the fear, the media, the news, and the uncertainty and connect to the real power source. Let Him recharge you so when you reenter those doors of your high school, you are confident in His provision and His care. You are more than a conqueror and nothing can separate you from His love.
Rachel Skirvin is a lover of travel, nachos and the gospel. She is a graduate of Urshan College and will most likely always call it Gateway. She just recently married her best friend and together they are serving at the Pentecostals of Cooper City in South Florida.