New shoes? Check.

New school supplies? Check.

Class schedule? Check.

Jesus? Um…

Let’s be real. High school is not the easiest environment to bring a relationship with Christ into. For me, His name was always an afterthought when it came to the start of a new school session. Each time August rolled around, I found myself setting big goals: This year, I’ll put more effort into my studies. This year, I’ll attend more social gatherings. This year, I’ll finally get a date to prom. But while I was organizing and overanalyzing my social life or pre-choosing the first few weeks of outfits, was I ever making goals that included Jesus or thinking of His hopes for me? I knew I wanted to have the best school year of my life, but I wasn’t sure how or even if my Catholic faith could fit into my teenage plans. Instead of asking for His guidance during the exciting and stressful years of high school, I was more interested in whether I’d get invited to a party or be the fastest runner on the track team. In a way, I was solely focused on my own glory, my own success and accomplishment —not what He could accomplish through me.

So as you start the next year, whether a nervous freshman or a wise senior, here are some tips on bringing Jesus into the next few semesters.

1) Do All Things With Purpose

While you may be dreaming about your call to be a doctor or your hopes of becoming a millionaire, your current vocation is to be a student. It’s your responsibility to live each school day fully and to the best of your ability. High school is a great time to discover your passions and talents, so don’t just ghost through the halls or let your mind wander in class. Live in the moment and seize every day as a chance to grow and learn. Even if you’re only writing a history essay, put passion and pride into your work. Make the mundane meaningful by treating your activities as a representation of who God created you to be. When you throw your whole heart and soul into a task, you’ll feel more fulfilled and gain greater self-respect. If you’re playing a sport or doing an extra curriculum like theater, offer up your actions as a show of gratitude and worship towards God. Make each kick of the ball or song you sing a sign of exaltation, and you will preform with new-found power. Allowing God to bring purpose into your undertakings also insures that you win with humility and lose with grace.

2) Take Off the Mask

It wouldn’t be high school without the ever-present pressure to “be somebody.” I was often trying to reinvent myself in hopes that others would like me more. I began putting on different masks, desperate to be what I thought my friends wanted to see. I wasn’t living a genuine life, yet my soul was still thirsting for the true and authentic. I didn’t realize having a satisfying school year meant I first had to be satisfied with myself. So this year let God create your image. The real you is always the best you, and only He can show us who we truly are inside. Let the masks come down and accept that you are unique and enough. When you act real with your fellow peers you’ll often find them willing to act real with you. Who knows, maybe a few of your friends are wearing masks too. Your example may be just what they need to experience true freedom and self worth.

3) Pray and Praise God

I remember high school as a time of highs and lows. Some days I could skip through the hallways feeling on top of the world. Others, I didn’t want to get out of bed. Regardless of what each week of school brings, there will always be trials, tests you fail, and friendships that hit a rough road. Praise God through each storm, and let Him know how thankful you are for each new experience life brings. (Yes, even the bad ones!) Pray to Him daily. Talk to Him about your fears and uncertainties. Tell Him about your day and how you’re adjusting to the new season. Tell Him what opportunities you’d love to see arise, or what future engagements you’re dreading.

As the summer months come to a close, just remember that God wants to be a part of your high school adventure. He wants to walk to your locker with you, or be in the presence of your friends. He wants to advise you on making the best decisions, and He wants to hold and comfort you when you choose wrong. He’s the proudest of parents, and He knows this year you’re going to do great things. Invite Him into your education and you will experience limitless life in astonishing new ways.

Written by Aneliesa Gilpin
Aneliesa is a student at Berklee College of Music, studying songwriting. She loves pop music, exploring Los Angeles, and explaining to people how she can’t hear the letter H. You can find her volunteering on the Reap Team or breaking into spontaneous musical theater numbers with strangers on the street.