“Encouraging Words Today”   September 22, 2010 


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



This entry was posted in 1. Bookmark the permalink.


  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.

  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!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s