How well do you remember your time in highschool? Not just how you spent your days, but how well do you remember your experiences and your feelings from the time you were in grades 9 through 12 (or 9 through 13 for some of you)? I have to admit that while I was attending CHCI in Kitchener (Go Gaels!) it seemed like I’d remember those days forever. But the memories fade pretty quickly, and with them go the emotions I experienced while living out my teen years. But it doesn’t take much to bring back some of how I felt during that time of my life, and sometimes it’s something as small as a newspaper quote.
In November 2020, Kamala Harris was elected to be the VP of the US. A quote from one of her classmates at the Montreal highschool from which she graduated caught my attention. The person said something to the effect of, “We all knew someone in highschool who was going to make the world a better place, and that person was Kamala Harris.”
My time in highschool was not (pardon the pun) a ‘high’ point in my life. I had been living on my own since grade 9, surviving on welfare while working 25+ hours per week and going to school full-time. I was a misfit for many reasons, financial being the big one. I was always running from school to work to caseworker appointments to the food bank, and then I’d repeat the cycle ad nauseam. In all honesty, I was glad to leave my highschool years behind me. But that quote about Kamala Harris making an impact stuck with me and I reflected on who that might be in my personal experience.
Trina came to mind, and I hadn’t thought about her in decades. She had a warm and engaging personality and had invited me into her home on several occasions to study and to hang out. I decided to search for her and ultimately reach out to her on Facebook, and when I did I thanked her for kindness and for how she modelled for me a drive to succeed. I told her that at a time when I felt displaced and nomadic, I appreciated the great compassion she had demonstrated.
You see, the way she behaved had an impact. Though I had forgotten her name for a time, somewhere in the recesses of my mind was the memory of how it felt to be included.
We’ve just come through the “5 Years from Now” series, asking what kind of disciples we might be 5 years from now if we put into practice the 4 Core Habits, and it got me to thinking about how those core habits also impact how we treat other people. One of my favourite phrases from our Convictions of Discipleship document (that which guides our ministry and mission at Calvary Burlington) is, “As Christians grow in love and knowledge, they will become increasingly concerned not only to step to the right themselves but to help others do so in whatever way they can.”
In a nutshell, I can’t be growing if I’m content that those around me are still in spiritual darkness. Moreover, I need to concern myself with the business of doing what I can to help them grow. So the deeper I immerse myself in the spiritual practices of the Word, prayer, fellowship and serving, the better equipped I am to encourage someone else on their spiritual journey.
So, what kind of disciple do I want to be in 5 years? I am perfectly content for people to forget my name, my face, and even my birthday. But 5 years from now I would be ever so thankful if someone was able to recall the impact that I had on their life because I was not content to leave them in spiritual darkness. That although I was eager to continue taking my own steps to the right, I did so with the excitement of someone who didn’t want to go there alone. That’s what kind of disciple I long to be.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:4–5)