Psalm 31: 8, 24 (NIV)
8 You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
Most of my fondest memories took place in the summer months. The summers of my teen years were full of fun and what I call life lessons. I remember all my summers being extremely hot summers. Maybe it’s because I lived near the lake and could go and cool off. It seemed like every summer was different, and to this day, they continue to be that way. No summer has ever been the same and has always had one or two of those life lessons tucked away, waiting for me.
In my later teen years, we all wanted to be our own people; we were developing into what our environments had programed us to be. We were products of our surroundings. If you think about it, we all are. We do and think like those that are around us. There were few exceptions to this rule.
At our high school, we were known as the boy’s home boys. You could spot one of us a mile away. We tried hard to blend in, and some of us were successful in doing this. One of my best friends had helped me to make this transition from the smoking area group to the A-B group. Although I would go between groups, Amy had taken an interest in me. She said it was my curls. We never dated or fell in love; we were the best of friends and still are to this day. Amy had some friends who were really pretty. Paula was one of them. Paula had long blonde hair, the prettiest eyes I had ever seen, and was chiseled out of a mold that would melt any teenager’s heart.
I was in love. Paula and I would meet up at school and sit under this big oak tree at lunch, talking about everything in life. I was so nervous to be around her; she was so beautiful. Amy would join us from time to time; I think she was making sure I was treating her friend just right. Amy would often coach me on the things women want to hear—what to say, what not to say.
Amy had arranged for us to meet on Friday and Saturday nights at her house. Amy’s parents were so nice. They were the first and only parents I knew who would allow a boy’s home boy into their house, let alone around their daughter. We would go over and meet up, sitting in the formal area of the house. First, just talking and then making out. Not the kind of making out of today. This was what I would call monitored making out. Amy’s parents weren’t stupid; they kept a close eye on all of us. They were right on the other side of the wall. If I remember correctly, there were no doors to this formal living room. They had beautiful furniture; Paula and I would take one seat and Amy and her date would take the other. I guess you could call it a double date at the house.
Amy’s mom was beautiful also; she had a heart that just breathed love. Her eyes could tell you anything. Her dad was always nice and stern in his commands to Amy. This was a model that I would use later in life.
I dated one of the most beautiful girls in school. This gave me something that I had never had before—confidence. A confidence that would soon teach me a lesson about life and love. Paula and I were getting along great, loving every minute of our teenage years. Then it happened. This tall, long-legged blonde girl walked by us one day. I had seen this girl before but never really noticed her until now. Her name was Gina. Was it the confidence I had from dating Paula that made me notice her? Was it the fact that she was at the top of the A group, along with her sister? Or was it the fact that I had Paula and couldn’t have Gina?
I must admit, I was happy in my relationship with Paula and did not need to date another girl or even look at another girl. Paula was a beauty queen. Gina didn’t even know my name, and maybe that was the problem. I got up the nerve to talk to Gina. She was very shy and quiet. She was not a talker and didn’t seem to be interested in me, so I backed off and continued my relationship with Paula. But there was a problem. A problem that I had not foreseen.
Amy found out that I wanted to talk with Gina. I will never forget standing under the walkway at the entrance to the school. Amy told me it wasn’t right to talk to Gina and say I was in love with Paula. After all, Paula was one of Amy’s best friends but so was I. Was she going to turn me in? Would she tell Paula? All I had done was try to talk to the girl, but deep in my heart, I knew if Gina would have said yes, I would have ended the relationship with Paula. I think this is what Amy knew, too. She knew me better than anyone.
Then Paula asked Amy if she should break up with me. Amy, without hesitation, told her to end our relationship. There were no hard feelings at all; we remained friends throughout high school, and I lost contact with her after we all graduated.
Amy and I remained best friends. When we get together, it’s always fun bringing up these stories that truly had an impact on our lives. Looking back, you can see God working. A few years later, I would meet the woman of my dreams, Lisa, and I have been married for twenty-three years now. We have raised two wonderful daughters and have been blessed with more than enough. God used all these little things in life to make the big things seem easier. It’s His plan after all.
I believe you can pick out many life lessons in this story. When we have what we want, we always want more. We always seem to feed on wanting some things that just aren’t meant for us.
God has a plan for your life. Sure, this was high school and everyone makes mistakes in high school. Some of my best friends made the most life-changing decisions in high school. Some decided to have sex and have babies; some decided to kill people; and some even decided to take their own life.
This story, as with all the others, doesn’t seem to end. It’s still ongoing. So, what can I use here to apply to my life? I suppose you can say two things. One, God is in complete control of your life, no matter what you think or where you are at. His plan for you has been set out before the beginning of time. We make poor decisions and do stupid things, but the God who holds the universe on its axis and ushers in billions of stars every night has a plan, and you really can’t mess it up.
The second thing is that every experience in life is placed in your path for a purpose. It may not be a mountain, and it may not be a valley, but these experiences mold us into the people we become.
In a final word, there is nothing wrong with wanting more, wanting something different, or wanting something new. But be content with what you have and take nothing that has ever happened to you for granted; there is a reason and a purpose behind everything. God will use it for good, no matter how bad it was or how bad it is.
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