Dear Freshman Year Aaron,
Don’t be too glib about the fact that you were basically able to avoid the freshman 15. You will not be able to avoid adding 30 pounds by age 30.
Anyway, I’m writing to give you a bit of advice before you head into your summer break. There’s no doubt this school year has been a significant step in the right direction. After having moved away from home you’ve begun to take steps in following Jesus as a grown adult, and kudos for that. Being involved in small group Bible study has done more to shape your heart and mind than you now realize. The friendships you’ve been forming with others in RealLife, those will only grow stronger and more life-giving in the years to come.
Yet, there are some challenges ahead this summer that you cannot fully see. One of the biggest challenges is moving back home and reintegrating into your family. You have changed a lot. Your parents love you, they were the ones who changed your diapers and raised you since you were born. Yet, it will be hard for them to treat you as the adult you feel you now are. They may not fully understand the emotional and spiritual changes that God has been working in your soul this past year. Remember that Jesus calls his followers to love and honor their parents. Show you are an adult by respecting them and carry more weight around the house. After all, how mature are you spiritually really if you still act like an entitled teenager?
About those friendships that have been forming through RealLife. This summer you’ll reconnect with a lot of high school friends that are back in town. You have to realize that many of your old friends are further down the road of a life lived apart from a relationship with God. While you were hanging out and sharing genuine life with your Christian friends, many of them were so drunk they do not remember most of their weekends this past year. If those friendships feel a bit different, there is good reason for that. Remember that when you try to live faithfully as a Christian in close proximity to friends who think you’ve become a crazy religious fanatic, you’ll experience some pressure. They may expect the old Aaron. That is probably true in part because the old Aaron affirmed their current life philosophy of “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”. Without all of the positive reinforcement of RealLife friends routinely in your life, this will be more difficult than you can now anticipate. Remember, Jesus is true and he is worth it.
Lastly, going home doesn’t mean that you will need to be disconnected from Christian community. Though you have a summer job that will leave you pretty tired, don’t forget to take the initiative to connect with Christians in your area. Without the structured schedule that RealLife sets up for you on campus, it will be easy to get lazy with your faith. Getting plugged into that small group Bible study, though it may feel a little haphazard this summer, will be a life blood. The same goes for regularly and prayerfully reading your Bible on your own.
Life will involve many transitions. This is one of them. Every transition will present new challenges yet new possibilities. Remember, Jesus is true and he is worth it.