Again this year students from Krysten Parson’s mentee group are sharing in chapel their stories of pain and joy as they learn to navigate their teen years and grow in faith.

One of these students, junior Emma Thomas, recently shared her journey from bitterness and self-centeredness to learning to live a life of joy. (Pictured center with Jadyn Kaufmann who earlier shared her story)

Over the course of the past year, Emma allowed her anger to grow and focused her thoughts on the negative as she experienced several hardships. She says, “Eventually I shut out my friends, siblings, and parents. I thought no one cared about me or they would have noticed everything that I was going through. I lost trust in others and myself. I lost passion for athletics, my relationships, and academics. Nothing brought me joy.”

At a crossroads in her life, she knew something needed to change. And she began to realize that the change needed to be her--not her problems--and that she couldn’t do it by herself. “So I turned to God, who helped me realize that these trials in my life would only make me stronger based on how I chose to respond.” She began to combat negative feelings by focusing on encouraging others, which helped mold her into a more positive person.

While her journey has been difficult, she has learned some valuable life lessons: “While I continue to struggle with negative feelings, I have learned to keep my eyes focused on Jesus. I am learning to drown out the little things that can distract me and fix my eyes forward. Change happens from the inside out.”

She concluded with a note of advice and encouragement to her peers: “If you are someone who feels hopeless right now, please don’t keep it inside. Talk to someone and share how you feel. Remember to be kind, love one another, and don’t walk your journey alone.”