I Survived My 10 Year High School Reunion

There we were, driving out into the peaceful countryside on the outskirts of scenic Chattanooga, Tennessee and the closer we got the more I was filled with terror. I felt tightness in my belly and my breath felt strained. I was conversing with my wife in a normal tone, but my talkativeness was a mask for the paralysis that was sweeping over me. Why did I feel so afraid? What did this meeting have that was different from any other?
My fear stemmed from a sense of shame and insecurity that I had not felt since my youth. I knew that I was going to see a group of people who had seen me in my most despicable moments. They had seen the most pathetic version of me. Not just the acne and gangly legged awkwardness of being a teen. Some of these people knew me as a snob, a loser, a wimp, or a bully. Some of them had been my friends but we were separated by years of silence. I was afraid of what kinds of awful thoughts and judgments they would have about me.
I began to pray, “Lord, help me! How do I deal with these fears and emotions? Where does this shame come from? How do I resist the urge to turn tail and run?” (I might have stayed away altogether, if my sense of thriftiness didn’t keep reminding me that we had already paid for the meal.)
In a moment of clarity, the Lord heard my cry and answered my prayer by making me recall his promises. There was no condemnation in Christ; there was no one to fear except the Lord. But, the one promise that altered the spiral of fear the most was the promise of the perfect law of God. The law is summed up with “love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor.” Jesus asks his disciples to cast out fear and to put on love. I am not called to be lovable, popular, or accepted by anyone. I am only called to love others. Suddenly, the script was flipped. I was not afraid of “what will these people think of me.” Instead, I began to think, “How can I show love to these people, my former classmates?”
I can’t say that I showed perfect love this weekend. I can say that I was not afraid because I knew that I was loved completely and unconditionally and that love had freed my heart to love others in the same way.
A lot of my high school experience brings back bad memories. But, thanks be to God that his grace is greater than my sin.

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  1. #1 by Heidi Vincent on July 14, 2008 - 2:19 pm

    I’m so glad you posted about your trip. Jacob and I avoided our reunions for the same reasons you were hesitant to go. Part of me thinks, man, what a great opportunity that would have been to show God’s love, but the other part of me thinks, Ick I don’t want to deal with the people that voted “me most likely to get a sex change”.
    With that said, I’m so glad God makes us new creations!

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