It’s not clickbait, it’s just a really honest title
If you live in the United States, I know what you’re probably thinking: “5 year high school reunion? That’s a thing?” Well, let me tell you…yes. Yes it is.
This past labor day weekend, I traveled to my hometown of Mexico City, Mexico. Five years after our graduation from the American School Foundation, several of my high school classmates and I gathered to celebrate.
But before I get too ahead of myself, I need to share some back-story.
When I found out about the reunion in November, I wasn’t initially sure I was going to attend. As I thought about it, I realized that if I went, I wanted it to be an experience where I was more than just another body at another party. I never really went to parties in high school, but only five years had passed—surely too much hadn’t changed in terms of people’s partying habits.
What I wanted, however, was to know about people’s lives, to hear their hearts, to know where they work, how their families are doing, and maybe even what their foreseeable future holds.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from seeing so many people I had barely kept in touch with for so long. For some reason, I had my mind set on the idea that no one had changed one bit. Perhaps I had this idea because in the grand scheme of things, five years really wasn't that long. But in all honesty, I just assumed that no one had matured or grown up at all (maybe I thought that more about the boys that used to make fun of me). I’m sorry to say I thought this way, but I am happy to say I was wrong.
I realized this wasn’t the case as soon as I got to Mexico and met up with some old friends. I began learning not only what people had been up to the past five years—what degrees they attained, who they dated, where they lived—but I also learned about their dreams and goals and ideas for the future. One individual, who 5 years ago would have barely said “hi” to me in the hall (and vice-versa), shared that he really wants to have a family some day. He told me how he has begun to think about his life as more than just himself, and desires to have a wife and to provide for his family. Learning an intimate detail like that about someone I barely knew was really beautiful to me, and helped me change the idea I had about no one being any different.
When I arrived at the reunion on Saturday, I was instantly overwhelmed. The last time I was around all those people, so much hadn’t happened. It was like I knew nothing about life, about myself, about faith or about love the last time I was in a room with the same people. Maybe that’s why I felt so out of place—in their presence I was constantly aware of how much I had changed; of how different my life was now. Because seeing their faces meant remembering moments we shared, either personally or corporatelly, and realizing that who I was five years ago wouldn’t even recognize the Tiffany that showed up at the reunion.
During the course of the night, I got to talking to one of my former classmates about this topic of change. He was asking me if I thought I had changed much in the last five years, and I expressed to him how I felt the difference was night and day. When he asked me why and how, I had to take a moment to think about it. I realized that besides the general maturing process that occurs in normal adults, there were two key components that formed the changes in me. The first was the lessons that I learned as a result of the three relationships I had been in, and the second was my personal journey to find faith.
When I shared this with my friend, he was shocked. He said, “I always thought of you as Tiffany Rogers, the super spiritual girl who knew everything she believed in.” (This is perhaps another aspect of my feeling out of place—realizing how people perceived me in high school versus how I now percieved myself). But I thought it was funny that he mentioned that because it’s true. I probably thought I knew what I believed in back then too. But now as I look back, I realized I knew absolutely nothing! I had the facts down, I knew what it generally meant to be a Christian—but my faith wasn’t real to me. My faith has become my own over the course of the past five years, and now, while I am continually learning, I can confidently say my faith is my own. I’ve learned to believe what I do because I have grasped it for myself, not just because it’s what I was taught or told to believe.
Over the past five years I’ve changed because I have learned that life is about so much more than just myself, and while I continually struggle with selfishness, I am also vastly aware that I need to change and I try to make genuine efforts to put others before myself. Over the past five years I’ve changed because I have learned to believe what the Bible says about me and listen to what God thinks about me more than what people think and say about me. Over the past five years I’ve changed because I have learned that a life without God—while perhaps easy and momentarily fun—is ultimately unfulfilling and void of true joy.
Several of my former classmates shared with me that they have begun to sense that they are no longer satisfied with living the life they have lived for the past 5+ years. They are starting to think about becoming fathers, about forming families, about chasing dreams, about following love. It was truly touching and inspiring to hear those statements from people I never have thought would say those things.
Almost a year ago when I decided to go to the reunion, I prayed that God would show me opportunities to minister to people, to hear their hearts, to find out about their lives. For the past several months I prayed as I felt the Lord was leading. Sometimes it would be for specific people and their lives, other times I prayed asking for favor amongst my peers, and for boldness to talk about the goodness of the Lord.
God really answered those prayers at my 5 year high school reunion. I left the trip feeling a great sense of worth and purpose. I got to share my faith with some people and I got to hear about people’s lives and the things that really matter to them. And I also got to dance with people that REALLY know how to dance (we have got to step up our game, America…those Mexican boys know what’s up).
This trip showed me that I am unapologetic about who I am and what I believe. It also ignited my heart with a passion to see my friends and former classmates come to know the God that I know, to live a life fulfilled by Him alone.
I look forward to the next reunion and reflecting on the five years to come. If you're reading this and we didn't get a chance to talk at the reunion or you weren't able to go, please send me a message—I'd love to talk.