life after high school - the greatest adventure is what lies ahead

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

In the Spring of 1999, I was preparing to graduate from Boone County High School in Florence, KY. I greatly enjoyed my time in high school. I had a strong and supportive family. I had lots of friends. I had a pretty girlfriend. And as a Senior in those final few months of school before you graduate, you have that feeling of being on top of the world.

And then, you look out the window to what is next, and it’s easy to get scared.

The unknown. The future. Change. Responsibility.

And among my friends, I remember there being two distinct groups. Those who were looking forward to the future and the adventure that was coming. And those who believed that life is at its best in high school.

I am firmly in the former camp. I believe life is an adventure and as you begin to experience life after high school, yes, it can be scary and difficult, but it only makes the tapestry of life more beautiful.

Life brings many, many adventures. Let’s look together at 6 adventures that can come your after your long days in high school are over.

Freedom

First, there is the adventure of freedom.

For most people, life after high school is one of the first times you experience a whole lot of freedom. Up until this point, your days tend to be dictated by parents and a school schedule.

But now, you are free. You are an adult. You can make decisions on what you want to do with your time, who you choose to associate with, where you will live, how you will make money.

There are all kinds of freedom that come after high school. Freedom can be both a blessing and a curse. For the wise, freedom may allow the opportunity to create, give and serve. For the foolish, freedom can be your destruction.

So, how will you know? Turns out, those years growing up in your home and in school actually mattered. The things you’ve learned and the experiences you’ve encountered up until now will dictate what you do with this new found freedom.

Yes, it’s amazing, but it can also be devastating. Sounds like an adventure, right?

College

For about 66% of students in America, the next step after high school is to go to college. Fifty years ago, that number was at 45%. And going to college, kind of goes hand in hand with the freedom adventure.

There is no question that college is an adventure. Most students live away from there home, and are able to explore all kinds of areas of life – education, beliefs, relationships, and much more.

For me, college was a time where my identity was tested. Who was I? Was I the person who my parents raised me to be, or am I someone else entirely? In many ways, college is like high school. However, the drama is usually not as enclosed into tight places. There is no doubt you will have life impacting experiences. And, this is truly an adventure.

One piece of advice I have about college. I found that when I was in high school, I worried tremendously about the decisions I would make that impact “the rest of my life.” What college should I pick? What major should I choose? How do I go after a career?

All of these questions are important to ask. However, I have found the answers to be much more fluid when placed within the context of 15 years. These questions matter and should be pursued, but don’t let the pressure of a “rest of your life” decision cripple you from making the choice that you feel is best at the time.

Work

Next, we come to work. Now, you might be asking, “how can work be an adventure?” Well, it all depends on your perspective of work.

Recently, I’ve had a bit of an awakening when it comes to work. And, it has changed much of what I am pursuing in life.

As a Christian, I have always believed that work was good – and that work was given to man before the Fall. See Genesis 1:28. And with the Fall, I also knew that it was toil and that weeds and thorns were going to fight back at me.

As a man, I naturally want to be passive, lazy and limit the amount of work that I do. And recently, what I realized was that I had even put work into the category of “necessary evil.” I would work only so hard, whether it be at a job, or with clients I had, to do the minimum requirements of the job, get my money, and go do what I really wanted to do.

The problem with this type of thinking is that you minimize work itself.

Believe it or not, work is good.

I’ll say that again. Work. Is. Good.

Why? Because God is a worker, and he created us in His image to do good work.

I know that this is not the message of our day and certainly not for high school students. We typically see work only as something we HAVE to do to get the money I want. I’m hear to say that if you look at work like that, you will fall into a trap that will drain your energy and joy for the rest of your life.

Instead, I challenge you to see work for what it is – an opportunity to express and utilize your God given gifts and serve and love the people of this world.

I’ll get off my soapbox here, but I have been so motivated by this thought of late. The idea that I can worship God through my work – that I can create art, beauty and value for others on this Earth has been extremely inspirational to me. And, I hope it is for you as well because work is an adventure that will take up a large chunk of time in your adult years. If you want more reading on this idea, I strongly encourage you to check out Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor.

Marriage

Ok! Now, on to one of my FAVORITE ADVENTURES …. marriage!

Now again, this is a really interesting one when it comes to our culture. The narrative of marriage has been marred by divorce and broken families. Many people have no hope that marriage can actually work. So, why try?

I have a different experience. My grandparents were married 72 years. Seventy. Two. Years. My grandfather passed away a year ago, and my grandmother this spring.

My parents have been married 47 years. And still going strong.

I have been blessed to have tremendous models of a man loving and serving a woman. And a woman, respecting and loving her husband.

This is God’s plan –

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

Genesis 2:24

One man. One woman. Two become one in marriage. This is a great mystery, but I have lived it out. This December, I will have been married 11 years to my wife. She is beautiful. She is my best friend. She knows all of faults and weaknesses and yet still loves me. This is marriage. This is a representation of the gospel.

When two people enter into a covenant relationship (not a contract, which has terms that can be broken), there is great freedom. When I know that I don’t have to earn my wife’s love – that no matter what I do, she will be my side in sickness and in health, I am free. I don’t HAVE to perform. But, I WANT to perform. I want to love her. I want to be a great husband to her.

I often tell younger men and women that I get to counsel, “when I got married, I learned how selfish I am.” And, that’s so true. Marriage brings maturity. For marriage to work, you must learn to be humble. You must learn to forgive.

Are you up for that adventure?

It is infinitely better than the alternative.

Kids

What does our culture say about kids? “Run like hell! They are expensive. They are loud. They are jerks. They ruin your fun. They ruin your dreams. They ruin your life!”

I thought that once. Then, I came across this.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
 Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
    He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates

Pslams 127:3-5

Children are a gift. A reward. Weapons in a warrior’s hand. How joyful is the man who has many children.

Uh … ? That’s not the story the world has told me.

And yet again, it has been my experience. I have 3 sons now. Three arrows. My reward has been great. My joy overflows sometimes to levels that I cannot believe.

If marriage was a lesson about my pride and selfishness, having children was the 201 level class.

To be a Father, you must die to yourself – always looking out for the benefit of others. You work to care for them, provide for them, teach them, love them, guide them. It is an incredible responsibility and adventure.

I used to think my story would last about 80 years or so. The world began in 1981 and stops spinning when I leave it, right? How foolish!

But when you become a father (or mother), your time horizon starts expanding. Not only can you see life beyond your years, you can actually begin to think multi-generationally. And, that leads us to our final adventure for life after high school.

Legacy

I know. I know. You’re 16, 17 or 18 and have to be thinking, what in the world does legacy have to do with anything?

Truth is. We are dust. We’re going to die. All of us. Sorry for the bad news. But, it’s happened to everyone. Even Jesus died. The world is pretty unforgiving in that regard.

So, what will you be known for? What will people say at your funeral?

Pretty heavy questions, but for me, this is a fantastic adventure. I think through my work, my marriage, my kids, my future grandkids all through the lens of passing down a legacy of faith and of love.

That’s it. Not complicated, but very important. I hope, even today, you would begin to think about the legacy you will leave behind.

Life After High School? So Much To Look Forward To!

I know in high school, it’s hard to think about some of these big things. But if I were to leave you with anything from this post, I want to leave you with this:

Life is an adventure. Life is brilliant. Go forward courageously.

Life After High School – 6 Major Adventures That Await You

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