“Take captive every thought…”

Scrolling through my Instagram feed last weekend felt a bit like emotional whiplash. Mixed with the typical pictures of friends’ kids and world-class runners I follow were some extravagant life moments. Students graduating from Southeastern. The senior walk at LCS. The fierce Britain Musick becoming hurdling state champ and sweet Moriah Quint receiving a scholarship. There were some incredibly sad moments, too. My brother gathered with his friends for the funeral of one of their best friends. Pictures of touching notes she wrote to family and friends that were shared at her memorial service. There were posts from a friend rebuilding her life with her six children after her husband’s suicide a year ago. There were posts from people mourning the passing of a young author whose words were often balms to the souls of many who struggled in their faith journeys.

But that is how life is. Joy and heartache is often intermingled as quickly as you can scroll through your Instagram feed. We had these thoughts in mind when we started planning our theme for this year’s yearbook, “The Art of Celebration.” The term was taken from a 2014 album by the band, Rend Collective, and was a reminder that the choice to celebrate life, even in hardship and struggle, was truly an art.

We talked about the power of words to create a framework to see the world. The power to heal, restore, give life, empower, and celebrate this life we’ve been given. We named our fears but more so our unexpected joys. The list was long. The framework of gratitude changed everything. This didn’t mean sticking our heads in the sand pretending all was right in the world. In fact, as the late Rachel Held Evans reminds us, “to be fully engaged in the world, we have to be vulnerable. And the annoying thing about being vulnerable is that sometimes it means we get hurt.” We know this deeply in our bones. A life well-lived involves hurt. But, what things would we let define us- sadness and loss- or would we choose to see the joy of the Lord and His goodness? The brain wants to hold onto the negative like Velcro. The good can easily slip from our view without rehearsing it in our minds. In fact, neuroscience confirms what God has already put in Scripture:

Whatever is good, whatever is lovely, whatever is pure, think on these things. Dwell on them.

Or as 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us:

“Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

As another school year draws to a close, no matter what emotional whiplash our students may be facing, our hope is to constantly remind them of their belovedness in Christ. Our story is one to celebrate because of the God who is the maker of all things new. It was our joy this year to celebrate, in times of joy and times of lament, this beautiful life He has gifted us.