Graduation: The Things We Remember

Its Graduation Season. A time for new beginnings and bringing things to a close. As you read this I will be attending my third graduation ceremony this year. Graduations are a time of reflection, remembrance and looking forward. As I think back to my high school graduation, all I remember is our senior class president saying, “If you remember one thing from this day remember…” Clearly I failed, not at life, or at school but to remember. To remember the great words of wisdom imparted to all of us by our senior class president.

What else have I forgotten? What words would I import to todays graduates? What words would I want imparted to me if I was graduating? While I don’t have definitive answers to all of these questions I thought I would share some insights of how I would want to remember if you could remember those closing of this line, “If you remember on thing from this day remember…”

Sayings that I am likely to forget include those that are perhaps most popular including YOLO (You Only Live Once), Your Journey Begins Here, The World is Your Oyster, and Today is the Beginning of Your Future. While these saying have some truth to them they all fall short of the moment. YOLO says, you only live once and while that is true it gives the image that life is only a collection moments that happen once and are gone tomorrow, we live for more than just a passing moment. Your Journey Begins Here, while graduation is a grand beginning it is not the beginning but rather a sending point of a journey much longer of preparing, testing, suffering, and triumphs. The World is Your Oyster, I don’t even know where to start with this one, I don’t like, nor have I truly experienced cracking an Oyster, so the meaning is almost completely lost on me. Lastly, Today is the Beginning of your Future, much like Your Journey Begins Here, this one also implies a discounting of the past to highlight the present and future.

So if these popular lines continue to miss the mark where would i turn, what would I say? How could we better inspire and inform our graduates for this moment of celebration and the path ahead? What words would I share that better reflex the moment? Words that better reflect the pain, struggle, hope and glory both present and going forward for graduates.

Proverbs 16:9 tells us this: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Graduations are often a time to celebrate plans, plans completed and plans to come. Proverbs has a way of putting these plans into their eternal perspective. My prayer for graduates is for the Lord to determine their steps. This is the same daily prayer I have for myself.

The Psalmist writes these words in Psalm 119:71 – “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.” As most graduations are filled with pithy quotes the psalmist bring us back to earth where sin, pain and suffering point us back for our need for a savior. My prayer is that we all would humble ourselves, and come to better understand how suffering, shapes us, forms us and teaches us to turn towards the Lord.

So as we enter graduation season let us embrace an honest dialog towards graduation that is not simply about arriving, the future, or limitless possibilities. So “If you remember one thing from this day remember,” we make plans, but the Lord determines our steps, these steps will involve suffering that teaches us to turn to the Lord. This graduation season I impart these words to graduate, families, and friends that would encourage there graduates to turn to the Lord to guide there future.