The Jesus I Got to Know In High School Is Love

The student authors of the Rooted Student Series give us a taste of the themes we explore in our recently released book, The Jesus I Wish I Knew in High School. As students either currently in high school, college, or just recently graduated, our writers offer us a fresh and unique perspective of the Jesus they got to know in high school or wish they had known when they were younger. Their stories and their wisdom will help youth leaders and parents guide their students through high school and point them to Jesus.  -Rooted Student Series Editor Lauren Center

The Jesus I have gotten to know in high school is loving, kind, and overall just wants the best or me. This view of him has developed throughout my life, as I struggled with wanting to know God for show, using the Bible to fix my behavior instead of knowing him deeper, and struggling with saying yes to Him. 

Now, I have not always fully believed He is loving and wants the absolute best for me, despite becoming a Christian when I was nine years old. Yes, I knew he was kind and loving because He saved me and died on the cross for me to take away my sins, but I don’t know if I fully believed he wanted the absolute best for me.

Throughout high school, I have been what would appear from the outside to be a pretty strong Christian. With that being said, I have also doubted God, said no to God, and have at times felt extremely numb to Him and Christianity. 

During middle school, I was told to have my quiet time every morning. My mom, dad, and sister all did, which I understand is extremely rare, as well as a huge blessing. I began spending time with God each morning, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I wanted to be like them. 

I began wanting to know God so people would see. Then I could contribute to the dinner conversations, give the best answers in small group, etc. I would do anything to go back and just realize that God was begging for my heart and wanted me to leave all the competitive Bible stuff behind. I did know and love the Lord, but I just don’t think I was spending time and learning more deeply about him for the right reasons. 

However, I was more than aware of this. I recently received a letter I wrote to myself in the 8th grade. The letter was an assignment by my English teacher, and she promised to mail them to the class when we were seniors. In the letter, I described my struggle with reading my Bible for show. This was my battle from 8th grade through 10th grade – learning about God simply to know Him versus reading and studying to show others I knew Him.  

A verse that would step on my toes and convict me throughout this time was, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).  Entering high school, I did begin to make my faith my own and began to have my quiet time solely to strengthen my faith. I have consistently had my quiet time for about 4 years now, but being one of the only girls who did this in my small group and close friend group came with its own set of problems. 

For the past few years I have struggled with growing deeper as a Christian because from my point of view I was already a few spiritual steps ahead of everyone my age. I thought, “So I guess I’m good right?” I would go through stages where I was passionate about learning more about God, but most of the time, reading my Bible in the morning was something I just checked off my list. 

I still struggle with this sometimes and have to consciously think about why I’m reading my Bible and praying in the mornings – not to perfect my morning routine, but to know Him better. I would also struggle with viewing this time in the morning as a self- help session where I read, not to know and understand God’s character better, but to help myself and fix my behavior.  

I now see that God knew I was figuring this out and just loved that I wrestled with it enough to come to a point where I understood how to study him and know him better. I have worked and worked, and am still working, to come to a place where I just get to know Jesus everyday and more deeply understand his love for me. 

I have learned that God isn’t sitting up in heaven waiting for me to mess up just to be angry at me. He doesn’t feel obligated to forgive us. He loves forgiving us! He doesn’t tell us to do hard things to make us uncomfortable and feel ashamed. He nudges us to do those things because he knows what is best for us. 

I have recently been really learning this because there are a couple of things that I have known God wanted me to do, yet I would push them off and continue to tell God no over and over again.  Whether that be tithing or having conversations with different people, at times I would say “Not that, God… anything but that.”

If you look at the way God prompts us to do things from a worldly point of view, which is what I would make myself do, then you can convince yourself that no one is making you do this. I don’t have to do it and everything will be fine. 

But recently I found the courage to say yes. I can’t explain the good that has come from that decision. I feel free and finally not so stagnant in my faith. I can feel myself growing in my relationship with God like never before. I now know that those hard things he was telling me to do came simply from love. His love drew me in making my faith grow and wanting to obey him more! In his love he was calling me to obedience, to do things that will make me grow. And the more I said yes to those hard things, the more I have been able to see God’s love for me.  

So the Jesus I have gotten to know in high school, as corny as it sounds, is love – He constantly loves me, guides me, and helps me in everything I do. I now feel that I am completely secure in that. I had never fully grasped the concept of Jesus guiding me in every stage of life. How could I, unless I agreed to do things his way and said yes to Him?

Lauren is from Fairhope, Alabama and is studying pre-nursing at Auburn University.

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