What I Would Say to Graduates of 2017

2017

I live in a fantasy world, I know this. My wife is an actual queen. My daughter is part horse, and my son is an adventurous knight (Nexo Knight to be certain…if you know what that is).

I say all this to let you know that it is only in this fantasy world that I would be allowed to impart any wisdom toward those graduating high school or college this year.

I take what I can.

Friends of ours have a daughter that is graduating high school this year. We’re all very excited for her and proud of what she’s accomplished. She’s quite the artist and has a bright future ahead of her. It’s this event, and the fact that you can’t look anywhere right now without being reminded of these young souls venturing out into the great wide world now, that got me thinking. What would I say, if given the chance to speak to them, or what do I wish was said to me when I took that first step so many years ago?

Pour Yourself Into the Everyday

Not every moment of your life is going to be glamorous. It’s not all about the big moments. The every moments is where life is lived. Make the most of them. The mundane can be exquisite. We often hear in church services that we should do everything as if unto the Lord (that’s found in Colossians 3:23). Most of the time, we apply that to our jobs, whatever they may be. Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted with a variation of that talking about a street cleaner giving his all. All of this is valid, all of it should be heeded, but I say go further. Not just your job, but with your friends and family. Give them your all.

It’s Not About You, But It Is

We need to be reminded in our day-to-day culture that it isn’t about us. We’re too narrow focused on our needs, our goals, our impact, our whatever. Often, this is to the neglect of those around us. The I’m-gonna-get-mine mentality dominates every relationship, every interaction. Follow your heart, follow your dream, do whatever it is that makes you happy. Those are the mantras we’re told time and time again. All to the detriment of taking care of the little things, taking care of each other.

We don’t live in a vacuum. We don’t live apart from the world around us. Everything we do affects others around us. Keep that in mind in every decision you make.

But, don’t neglect yourself, either. You do need to take care of yourself. Your health, your energy, your mental well being. Do chase after your dreams. Do strive for the things that make you happy. Take time to breathe, time to fill your soul.

You cannot give from an empty well.

Go for the big picture, Go for your lofty goals, just don’t neglect those around you nor let yourself get so tunnel visioned that you can’t see the blessings around you – or the needs.

There Is Always Hope

Sometimes, life sucks. There is no way to water that down, no way to blunt it. Some days are soul ripping, life obliterating. Life is hard.

But don’t give up. This is where the keeping in mind everyone around you comes in handy. We can’t do this alone. No matter how strong you think you are, you were never meant to do this alone.

And, you’re not. There is always hope. If we stand with each other, there is always hope. If we keep our eyes open for the needs around us, there is always hope. If we reach out when life is steamrolling us, there is always hope.

And, yes, with Jesus, there is always hope.

He won’t make your life magically better. He won’t blunt the hard, the messy. But, with him, we can know that the hard and messy isn’t the end. There is something better waiting for us. An end to the hate, the violence, the tears, the anger, the soul ripping.

Yes, I believe Heaven is real. And, it waits for us. That doesn’t blunt anything, but to know that this world does not have the last say gives me hope. A hope that can never be taken away. A hope that will not disappoint.

Conclusion

So, this is what I would say. Nothing new. Nothing earth shattering. But, so important to grab hold of nonetheless.

Go for your dreams. Go for the gold ring. But, grab the hands of those around you and hold on as you go. Lift them up with you, and lean on them when you don’t have the strength.

And, know, that Jesus is real. Heaven is real. And, yes, that hope can transform you and your world here and now.

Congratulations. We all look forward to seeing what you’re going to do. Our prayers, my prayers, are with you.

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