Has anyone else realized the horror of “Decades Day” as a part of Spirit Week all around the country? Those of us who have teenagers under our care may be familiar. During Spirit Week at many high schools, students get to dress up and celebrate at school with fun and wacky outfits. For “Decades Day,” students enjoy wearing throwbacks from earlier times, choosing one decade to represent the occasion.
This sounds fun and seems fine and dandy, right? It is fun until you find out that students now consider the 2000s a throwback decade! Yes—a throwback! They consider the 2000s a time long ago, when youngsters wore big shirts, baggy pants, and had phones that simply called, texted, played Snake, and held a little music. For some Millennials, like me, this is a shock. It signifies teenagers officially think Millenials are old. We are not Methuselah (Genesis 5) yet—but we are getting there!
From an educator’s standpoint, Spirit Week is intriguing because we get to see how our students choose to express themselves outside of ordinary, day-to-day school life. Their individuality shows in the fun outfits they put together. Their image matters so much to them! We live in a world where image matters a great deal, and it can easily be manipulated. The focus on our “fit” and outward appearance to the world is intense. It is true of both educators and students, in varying levels, but it is important to realize that this isn’t necessarily a bad impulse to have.
Trends in the Christian Life
As we look deeper in Scripture, we recognize that this world is temporary. God constantly calls us out of worldliness. He says in 2 Corinthians 4:18 that our focus should be fixed “not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” The reality is that trends will come and go, but we can take joy in knowing that our relationship with God is eternal.
When helping students recognize the difference between temporal and eternal, we have to empathize with them. We painfully hold on to temporary fashion trends or ways to communicate that have come and gone, and so do they. This is a pain point and a connection point.
Some Things Don’t Change
When we think about how our Lord is described, made known to others, and collectively worshiped and adored, we must be careful about what we deem temporary. We can’t mess with something eternal that must remain unchanged and rooted in God’s promise, such as the words spoken at our Baptism. Being able to differentiate between things that are temporal but sentimental and things that are eternal and deeply comforting is a vital component of our faith. We are called to teach our students this same discernment in the faith the Holy Spirit has given them. In a world where stories and images disappear in twenty-four hours, we have been gifted the task of reminding the young people in our care that God is continually writing the story of our lives together with Him. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and His mercies endure forever.
A Spirit Week
Thinking about Spirit Week, we find comfort knowing that the Holy Spirit is with us to navigate life. We are reminded of the words of Jesus from John 14:26, which promise us that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
I have had those moments where I could not initially remember words from Scripture that would bring peace. I also remember praying for the Spirit to guide my words, and they came flowing out, followed by individuals sharing how the words helped them. Since the Holy Spirit walks with us just as Jesus promised, we take confidence in being able to boldly speak God’s truth into the lives of our students, their families, and our fellow educators. There is no throwback day for God’s Word because He speaks the eternal Word, which pierces the dark and formless void and makes it into the world we know. May you find moments to embrace this and share His everlasting love, care, and trust with all those in your classroom, your school, and the wider educational community.