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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)

TITLE: One Classmate's Commentary
By Coleene VanTilburg
07/21/09


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If asked if I ever wanted to relive my teenage years, for me the answer would have to be, no. God has a plan. I am the class of 1972. The things we witnessed in history were amazing, world changing and sobering. Those events gathered us around a television set full of transitor tubes where we would watch Ed Sullivan introduce The Beatles, Walter Cronkite tell us "that's the way it is", and a Civil Rights movement that was gaining momentum. My father worked as a maintenance engineer for an aerospace company and he frequently brought home glossy pamphlets of Apollo capsules and handsome astronauts preparing for orbit or beyond. One hot summer brought the Manson Family murders and images of soldiers in rice patties in country far away, the reality of it hitting when one of my classmates lost his brother, downed in a helicopter crash in some jungle. I wore a P.O.W. bracelet for many years until it broke in half. The music of the day was vibrant, loud and I loved it!

High School, another right of passage into the unknown but the music would carry me through. By now I had long since bonded with a group of friends who would only broaden as I went on to high school. We endured first period P.E. and swimming, the smelly cabbage field across the street and the loss of our library to an arson fire our senior year. I will call myself one of the "B" team. I was never a cheerleader or homecoming queen, never dated the quarterback, but I hung out as one of their "support group." School spirit was high. We all were in the same place on Fridays, Bob's Big Boy after the game. Many times though I would retreat to my room, put on my vinyl records and wish I was prettier, skinnier, more popular, more athletic...Oh, the insecurities of being a teen, the drama, and the broken hearts. Pop the 8-track in; I need to hear that Linda Ronstandt song just one more time.

Church youth group and Youth for Christ kept me grounded in the Lord and the Jesus Movement was upon us. We were young, highly emotional but not mature enough to understand yet what it means to be sanctified. Those rights of passage would take me down a few roads I should not have entered and of course in hindsight it was the Lord who would set my correction, protecting me from myself usually. I would find my way back to the friends around the campfire down at the beach or at camp, strumming guitars to America's "Horse with No Name", James Taylor's "Fire and Rain", and "We know we are Christians by our Love."

It has now been thirty-seven years. This summer seems to be the summer of "reconnection." While I have remained close friends with a small handful of classmates, it took effort. I have kept my address book up, keep birthdays in my head, and send out Christmas cards every year. I learned how to e-mail and Facebook. Last Saturday, I attended an all class reunion at the park in my home town. What great surprises to find long lost friendships when we were young in Christ and open to the possibilities of a life happily ever after. Sitting in the warm shade, the topics of conversation would lead us to discovering we were all insecure, but we found strength in each other. We wondered out loud, "Where are the cheerleaders, the quarterbacks, the Homecoming Queens?" For the most part, they were not in attendance, not still connected. Yet the "B team" would remain to carry on our memories.

Sanctification is what we have now; a perspective of a time and a walk with God that I personally, although many times were dark, I can now share in confidence. I have a testimony. Sometimes our journeys bring us full circle with each other. The music now serves as a reminder of God's never changing love, the gift of true friendships and purpose. I may have been a "B" team player in high school, but along with my old friends now, we belong to the "A" team, unpretentious and blessed. Today, Air-1 is on in my car and Kutlass and Jeremy Camp rock my ITunes. The music keeps me young at heart, friendships keep my heart full and God ties it all together to His glorious rhythm.


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Member Comments
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Seema Bagai 07/23/09
Isn't it great how time gives us perspective on the past? A couple of typos to note (rice paddies and rite of passage). Good work in this piece.