The Bigger Picture

Yesterday after finishing a presentation to a health class of high school juniors and seniors, five young men stayed after class to speak with me. The last young man who had patiently waited for me to finish speaking with the others simply wanted to say “Thank You!” I told him how much it meant to me that he had waited so long to let me know how much he appreciated and benefitted from my presentation.

I also told him I was sure he was already making good decisions even before hearing me speak. He dropped his head and said nothing. I said, “But you will START making good decisions after today because when you know better, you do better, right?” He smiled and said, “Yes!”

Though he was a shy young man and didn’t have much to say, he wasn’t in a hurry to leave. So I started making small talk with him, asking him about his life, grades, etc. When I asked him about his home life, he said he lived with his mom and two younger sisters, aged 10 and 13.

I then said the following to him:

If you have two younger sisters, I know you are going to be a great role model for them, to show them how they should expect to be treated by their boyfriends when they are older based on how they see you treat your girlfriends.Do you understand what a huge responsibility it is to know that you could influence your younger sisters’ lives to that degree? That’s HUGE man! And you know what? I believe that you are capable of meeting that challenge.

Your decision to treat the girls that you date with respect by not having sex with them is SO much bigger than the benefit of abstaining to you personally. This isn’t just about you, but this is also about what you are teaching your younger sisters about men and relationships. You have the opportunity to show your little sisters what REAL love is (which is as simple as doing what’s best for the person you are dating and never doing anything knowingly that could potentially hurt him/her).

Every time you think about having sex, just say to yourself, ‘This isn’t JUST about me!’ Don’t you think that will make it easier to stick to your commitment if you know that your decision is NOT just about you?

He smiled and confidently said, ‘YES!” I hugged him, told him I believed in him and he left.

Though short in stature, this young man looked as if he had grown a few inches when he walked out the door.  He left that classroom with his head held high, a smile on his face and empowered. I’m hoping that conversation will stay with him for years to come.

I, too, left the classroom empowered, but also encouraged—encouraged that my efforts are not in vain.

I think one of the reasons I have been so successful reaching young men with my message is because I challenge them and they can tell I actually BELIEVE they are capable of meeting the challenge. I also help them understand how their current choices could impact others, now and in the future.

Thank you for coming to my high school as you have made me look at the bigger picture of life.

Think of the young men and young ladies you come in contact with every day. How can you help them see the bigger picture and understand that their choices aren’t just about them?

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