Have you ever complained or even silently whispered, “Everyone’s going to prom but me”?
“Uh, Kristen,” you say. “Prom season is over.”
To that, I reply, “You’re right. I’m not really talking about prom.”
Last week, I had the chance to catch up with one of my close friends for the first time in a while. She asked how marriage is treating me, and I told her we’re doing great. Life is just overwhelmingly busy, and I don’t have time to do all the things I want or think I should. Plus, I confessed that I need to get off social media. It just makes me feel “less than” when I see so many of my friends being absolute rock star writers, and I can barely scratch out a weekly blog post right now with all my college assignments piled on top of my teaching load.
“Oh, girl, I get it,” she said. “It’s like, Everyone’s going to prom but me.”
Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you feel that way right now. I’ve got good news and better news, so grab your coffee and join me for a few minutes.
The good news: Prom is wonderful, but so is Netflix in your pajamas.
We focus too often on the glittering spotlight, the shimmering dresses, and the most sought-after dates. Okay, maybe we did or maybe we didn’t care that much about prom, but stay with me. Maybe you could care less about the limelight or best-dressed award, but do you crave that travel adventure, that real-life “forever” romance, that dream home, or that other seemingly unreachable goal? Ah, now we’re on the same page, right?
Maybe you spent prom night on the couch in your pajamas, because you didn’t have a date. Or maybe you were like me, a home-schooled tomboy who didn’t have the option to go to prom (and frankly, didn’t care).
However, I’ll confess I’ve felt “left out” in other ways, and if you’re being honest, so have you. Maybe what we’ve wanted have been really good things, too, but for whatever reason, God hasn’t seen fit to give them to us.
Maybe a rejection is God’s mercy in disguise. Maybe a “no” is just a “not yet.” Or maybe a “no” is an opportunity to see if we will trust God regardless of what eventually happens.
The bottom line is that we can still find contentment of the purest kind when we don’t get to go to prom. We don’t find it in our circumstances. We find it in our Savior who supplies all our needs as He sees best (Philippians 4:19). The Apostle Paul shared his own personal example:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV)
Ah, we quote verse 13 for a spiritual pep talk on a regular basis, but how often do we notice the preceding verses? Do we ask God to let us be content when we’re full and when we’re hungry? When we’re on the mountaintop and when we’re feeling oh so low?
Our God who is with us in our prom-like moments is also with us on the couch when we’re alone and nursing our broken dreams with ice cream and Gilmore Girls. His presence can sweeten our less-than-photo-worthy moments and remind us that He alone satisfies.
The better news: Prom will come around again.
The Bible’s wisdom literature is among my favorites. Why? It points out the common-sense truth that we forget in the heat of the moment when we’re tempted to cry, Everyone’s going to prom but me!
Truth is, everyone isn’t. Social media creates a FOMO (fear of missing out) culture, thanks to all our beautifully filtered photos and featured life highlights. I mean, hello. I don’t post updates about all the student papers I grade or now the papers I write, because no one’s interested in my daily workload.
What I do share (and c’mon now, so do you) are those “prom” moments. Most recently, that special moment was my wedding, one of the happiest days of my life. So much joy and answered prayer rode on that day that I couldn’t wait to share about it!
However, let me jump to the other side of the fence (because I’ve been there too). For the many years I was single, scrolling through wedding pictures on Facebook was more like an exercise in self-mortification. Please don’t misunderstand. I was happy for my married friends, but I felt left out. Everyone was going to prom but me.
Here’s what I had to learn: God’s timing and plan are better than mine, and everyone’s stories are different.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Special thanks to Solomon for putting that so eloquently. Read the next seven verses for his full summary, and then, journal a few lines of personal application to where you are right now. All our dreams might not be realized, but God has seasons of blessing in store regardless.
Next year, prom season will come around again. There will be new opportunities, new possibilities. However, don’t forget to soak in and enjoy the ones before you this day, even if they aren’t as glamorous as a prom date. They are here for only a season as well, so savor the moment.
The best news: Prom doesn’t actually matter.
Whaaatt? After all that, you’re going to tell me my prom-like dreams are a waste of time?
Well, yes and no. Cultivating the gifts God’s given us and chasing the dreams He’s placed on our hearts are not wastes of time. The Bible makes clear that we are God’s workmanship, created to do the good works He’s called us to do (Ephesians 2:14 paraphrase). That calling is a good thing and looks different for each of us.
However, God doesn’t need our achievements, even though in His grace, He sometimes sees fit to use them for His bigger purpose. He doesn’t call us to be successful, and he doesn’t guarantee life will be happy or easy. We too often lose sight of our real mission in our side-tracked frenzy to grasp what we’ve told ourselves matters or what the world places its money on.
Here’s another of my “prom” examples: It doesn’t matter if I’m ever a world-class writer or picked up by a major publisher or sell a boat-load of books. None of those things matter.
What matters is if I’m faithful with the gifts and responsibilities God’s given me. What matters is sharing His Word with others. What matters is living a life that pleases Him. What matters is hearing Him say, “Well done” one day.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (I Timothy 6:6-7)
You see, prom doesn’t matter. If we get to go one day, good for us! If someone else gets to go today, good for her! And the next time we’re tempted to whine, Everyone’s going to prom but me, remember this: Prom is nice, but it’s not the point.
Live in abundance, friends!
Everyone’s Going to Prom but Me – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)