WHY I LEFT HIGH SCHOOL … AND CAME BACK

“Encouraging Words Today”   September 22, 2010 

WHY I LEFT HIGH SCHOOL….AND CAME BACK

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

 High School is hard. It was hard for me in the 1960’s and it’s hard today. This morning I stood by the flagpole and prayed with a small gathering of students and faculty observing “Meet Me at the Pole” prayer day. My prayers were that God would reach into this place with His Help and His Hope. I prayed this daily until all 4 of my own children graduated from this school. Then I came back to high school as a substitute teacher. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Cindy Secrest at 15 - Go Thomasville Bulldogs!

 I never thought I’d willingly return to high school. Truth is, I had left after my junior year and never looked back…

So yeah, I have university and masters degrees but never a high school graduation. Everyone thought I was crazy to deliberately miss my senior year but frankly, I was relieved to move on and start fresh several states away.

 High school was not my most shining moment. While awkwardly trying to figure out exactly who I was (and not be defined by everyone else’s expectations or assumptions) I felt increasingly out-of-place amongst my peers, or (as I recalled in my book Role of a Lifetime) “a nonconformist in a sea of sameness.” While that may or may not have actually been true, it was my perception of the truth at that time. Mostly I felt really lonely. I lived Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” and listened to Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock” and “Sounds of Silence.” That should tell you something…

To this day, I recall God’s clear guidance, provision, and confirmation to me about leaving high school early — a process which  included many small miracles. As radical as it was at that time, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that going to Furman University at barely 17 was going to change my life. I would either have to grow up real fast on my own or I would fail miserably. It was probably my first real leap of faith — but certainly not my last.

 Perhaps that’s why my heart is tender towards high schoolers. It’s such a pivotal time and they are up against a myriad of choices designed to entice and entreat them to follow one way or another. Every day as I do my small part teaching or encouraging, I pray that God’s love, compassion, hope, mercy, truth and grace would descend on each one and bring perspective, purpose and perseverance.

 I’ve never been to a high school reunion. Because I wasn’t really part of any graduating class my name isn’t on any rosters so I’ve never been invited. Though I left in 1970, mine is really the Class of 1971 – and they’re planning a 40th reunion next summer. This t ime I heard about it and invited myself.

 I am absolutely going to that reunion! I need to do this. I want (I think) to do this. It’s all part of my Life Story and therefore  continuing to unfold. I suspect it won’t be dramatic at all. It may be even be comfortable. I know who I am now, and who I’m not. God has been so faithful to me for many years.

 I pray the same for my students today.

 “You got me when I was an unformed youth,

God, and taught me everything I know.

Now I’m telling the world your wonders;  

I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.

God, don’t walk off and leave me until I get out the news  

Of your strong right arm to this world,

news of your power to the world yet to come,

Your famous and righteous ways, O God.

God, you’ve done it all! Who is quite like you?”

Psalm 71.17-19 MSG

 Under the mercy, CINDY

©2010 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

www.EncouragingWords.net

 

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2 Responses to WHY I LEFT HIGH SCHOOL … AND CAME BACK

  1. Susan Wells says:

    Cindy, I love this. I’m glad to know what you are up to. I wish we had you in our highschool. I keep praying for Wyldlife and YoungLife to reach the kids here.
    DEFINITELY go to your reunion. We went to our 40th this year and had a wonderful time. Hopefully you’ll have time to find friends on facebook…..or you won’t recogninze each other. 40 years is a long time. It doens’t seem like it’s been that long, but if you haven’t kept up, we do look a little different.
    susan

  2. maggierowe says:

    What a cute cheerleader you were! And you are STILL cheering countless people on today through your writing and speaking. As I read your post I thought, “Cindy will likely not know till eternity the impact of her presence in the lives of those high school kids she passes in the halls every day.” But God does!

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