On Second Thought: The company you keep

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 2, 2023

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By Marie Harrison

For the Clemmons Courier

As my son slowly begins to wind down his high school career, with junior year almost a quarter of the way done, I’m trying to soak in every moment and enjoy every last minute of all that junior year brings. One such joy was watching my son be inducted into the National Honor Society.

Before school even began, the application for NHS opened, and he began reaching out to teachers for recommendations, writing up his list of achievements for leadership, and counting up his hours of service through various organizations. Trying to sum up the past two years in one application was a tricky process, and I can only imagine how cumbersome the college application process will be next year. When the email was sent that acceptance letters were on their way via U.S. Mail, my son was quick to volunteer to check the mailbox. And finally, over a month after the process began, the mail arrived, and he got the news he had hoped for: congratulations on your acceptance.

Sitting in the auditorium of my old high school, which is now my son’s current high school, it seemed a bit surreal to watch my son take the vows of membership that I myself took not that long ago, or at least it seems like not that long ago.

On a night when we celebrated the accomplishments of all these young men and women who are putting in countless hours of work in the classroom and beyond, the speaker acknowledged that this night will likely be forgotten. Except for a few potential mishaps that may occur, stumbling across the stage or wax dripping from the candle onto your fingers, most of the night will be forgotten, a victim of time and memory.

As I thought back to my own NHS induction, it dawned on me: what do I remember? I know it happened. I know I was a member, but the actual ceremony? Nothing. Which is exactly why the speaker encouraged the students to remember not this one particular night but instead to remember and enjoy the journey. Reaching membership in NHS doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process filled with countless decisions and, more importantly, countless people.

To be successful in high school, college, or life in general, we all need a little support. It’s the people who help us along the way that truly make a difference. None of us gets where we are in life all by ourselves. We all need a little help. Yes, hard work and determination are important, but what about the people who are there to encourage us when things don’t go as planned? How about the parents who are working two jobs to be able to give their own children something that they didn’t have? Or the teachers who invest countless hours “off the clock” helping to tutor those who really want to learn. While each of us may have a unique journey, one thing remains the same: the company we keep helps determine the trajectory of our path.

As the ceremony concluded and I stood around outside with my son and his friends and family all gathered around, I couldn’t help but think that the company you keep most certainly helps determine your journey.

Maybe this is why the Bible warns us about being careful to choose the right company. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul warns that bad company ruins good morals. It corrupts good character. Choosing the right company, the friends and family who will be there to encourage and support you and lift you up only propels you forward. But bad company? It is there to pull you down, to fill your mind with negative thoughts, to tell you that you can’t and never will, to lead you on a path that goes anywhere but up. If we truly want to enjoy the journey to soak up all that life has to give, both good and bad, we need to take care to choose the company that will be by our side through thick and thin. The company that will support us no matter what. The company will continuously offer a shoulder to cry on and a push at just the right time. Company that will help us savor every moment and truly enjoy the journey, wherever it may lead.