Shonebarger

September is a special month for me. I was born on Labor Day, the first day of September, many years ago. Needless to say, it was literally “labor day” for my mother! Back then, school always started after the holiday. While I enjoyed my birthday as any kid would, the dread of starting school (often the next day) put a damper on the celebration by late afternoon.

To make things even more unsettling was that most years I was starting school in a different location. In 13 years of school including kindergarten, I began anew 12 times! This was very difficult from a scholastic and social standpoint. The consequences are still seen in my adult years as I don’t attend class reunions nor had I built lifelong friendships. I was a senior beginning a new school. Most of the seniors in Loveland, Ohio, had grown up together.

September would bring cool mornings and warm afternoons. There was never air conditioning in the classrooms. There would be a few years when classes would be cut short because of the heat. Getting out of class early was nice, especially since you hadn’t gotten acclimated to school from your summer schedule. However, the teachers ensured that you had plenty of homework to take up the slack. Ugh!

I recall the learning material being thoroughly new to me, while the other students had covered that subject the previous year. This was another obvious consequence of moving from school to school. There were specifics I was never taught; there were gaps in my studies. I had to try to self-teach in order to catch-up. It was always hard to keep up with my classmates.

Being the new kid at school generated other problems. With which group of kids will you fit in? How will you stand up for yourself? With whom will you sit at lunch? With whom will you walk home from school? Which girls already have a boyfriend? There were many issues to navigate and it never got easier.

My senior year of high school I worked five nights a week at Perkins restaurant in Cincinnati, for the legendary Matt Perkins. I missed out on sports and social activities. I wasn’t dating anyone; I didn’t have time! I had a girl ask me to the prom. Well, that problem took care of itself. After prom night, followed by a day at Kings Island Amusement Park, I would never see her again.

As I look back on those school days, I realize the constant transitions had forged me into the adult that I am. It has made me adaptable to new situations. I learned to embrace change much easier than my peers. I learned that one of the keys to life was to outlive your problems. Things will come to pass. Nothing lasts long. Guaranteed.

The frequent moves in my youth clearly prepared me for my future ministry. God would move us around the nation and I had learned never to fear a new location. I learned how to interact with new people. I acquired an acceptance for people from different socio-economic backgrounds, religions, sexual preferences and politics. I learned to be bold and put yourself out there for people to know you. I learned how to make a positive impression; I had a lot of experience!

I never had a comfort zone where I could sit back and put my life on cruise control. I have come to the conclusion that God used my “frequent flyer” miles in school to teach me more than book knowledge. The moves taught me people skills, management and leadership. All the hardships I encountered are now paying big dividends. God had made no mistakes in His plan for my life!

I want to wish all of our Trousdale, Macon and Wilson County young people a tremendous school year. Even with a flex schedule due to COVID-19, you are learning unique lessons of life that will prepare you for the future. Change is good! Challenges break us from our mundane into the exciting. The experience is forging you for your future journey as an adult. You have the benefits of this experience that other people older than you never had. What an advantage!

Through it all, God has a plan for all of us. In His sovereign plan, He is molding us for His glory. Through the fiery crucible we are forged into the vessel, acceptable for the Master’s use. He is with us through the difficulties of change. Let us take comfort that God does all things well. Have a great week and remember, God loves YOU!

Contact Jon at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.

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