I am writing you this message from the year 2016. You are about to start your freshman year at Groves High School. The next four years are going to prepare you for the rest of your life. I want to share a step-by-step guide that will help you pursue the dream of living a life of happiness. Enjoy your time in high school but keep your eye on the prize. I am going to give you four steps that will guarantee you a life of happiness if you are willing to work hard.
Step One: Enjoy your youth to the fullest. You will make some great memories playing sports, hanging out with friends/family and spending time with your youth group at Garden City United Methodist. Get involved in extracurricular activities early in your high school years. You will think that waiting until you’re an upperclassman to play football is a good idea because you’ll get bigger. I hate to break this to you, but you’ll be a runt until the freshman 30 pounds hits in college. You are 5’11 135 now; you’ll graduate 6’2’ 150 unless you spend more time in the weight room. Extracurricular activities will help build your character.
Travel more! Later in life you will regret not doing more missionary work or studying abroad when you got the chance. Struggle to balance school, work and sports. Balancing time is one of the hardest things your 29-year-old self-battles with. The earlier you learn to manage your time, the better prepared you will be in life.
Step Two: Meet as many people as you can. You will not truly understand the value of networking until after college, but it has a huge impact on your life. Make a good impression. Seek the advice of the elder generations with problems you will face. Find a person who has the characteristic you would like to have and spend time with him/her. Try to seek a mentor and listen to the advice they give you. This will help you in the future, TRUST ME.
Also, listen to your parents. Even when you think they are trying to keep you from having a good time, they are truly looking out for your best interest. Cherish your time with Dad at Groves. You will grow very close in these next four years and being coached by him will be your favorite part of high school. Your mother is way smarter than you give her credit for. She will have a huge impact on every major decision you make later in life. I suggest you start seeking that advice sooner. Family is one of the cornerstones your life has been built on; the sooner you realize this the better.
The friendships you make in high school will last a lifetime. Santos Rivera, Zach Albers, and Edgar Rodriguez from the Groves baseball team will be in your wedding. Currently you play golf almost every Wednesday at 5 pm, 12 years after high school, with Mike Reynolds, Zack and Aaron Jarman, Tyler Wilson, Amit Patel and Brice Pierce. It is rare to have a group of friends that only grows closer with time. On the other hand, the dating you will do in high school doesn’t work out. You will learn some valuable lessons in those relationships, but the most important is putting those young ladies’ needs above your own. Spoiler alert- you’ll need to work on that, even when you get married. Speaking of marriage, keep your eyes open for a beautiful, left-handed volleyball player in your time at Georgia Southern. She is going to rock your world.
Step Three: Seek out opportunities to build your work ethic. You will work a few part time jobs earning spending money while on summer break in high school and college. Work every job to the best of your ability. Find a way to develop your communication skills, learn the proper way to make a cold call, and perfect it. Use your competitive nature and try to sell more than any other volunteer or employee. I promise you, spending time building this skill set will benefit you more than any lifeguarding job ever will. You can make time for socializing but do your work first. Granddaddy will give you the opportunity to learn his trade of laying brick. Take it! The good Lord calls him home way before you are ready to give him up so squeeze every drop of time you can with him. He has so much wisdom he is willing to share if you just ask.
Step Four: (and most importantly): Seek Christ daily. Set aside time to spend in the Word. Get involved in a Bible study outside of Sunday School. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Spend more time in discussion about Jesus and His Word with your friends and family. This will strengthen your relationships more than you will ever know.
Pray. Pray in every season. Pray in every one of the steps above. It is the one action you can take to increase your chances of success. Know that praying will not solve every problem you face, and you will not always get the result you seek, but it will help. Never stop praying. Even when you feel like you have made it to the mountaintop or deep in life’s valley. Continue to thank God for every blessing and trial in your life.
The happiness you seek is not in wealth, status or approval of peers. It is in family, friendship, working hard and seeking the Lord. If you followed the steps above, you’ll make it. Speaking with 16 more years of life experience, help us get to a place of happiest by starting sooner. Only you can improve our situation by setting us up for success. Use your time wisely and heed my advice. You’ll thank me later.