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Graduations

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How old are you? Do you remember “graduating” from something?

Man, I sure do.

On the day of my 8th-grade “graduation,” I remember being asked, and completely privileged (to a degree), to play “Pomp and Circumstance” on the piano as my 8th grade compatriots sashayed across the stage, as it were.

On the day of my high school graduation, I remember my lifelong closest friends…many of whom I had been classmates with since kindergarten. And some of them I am even in touch with to this very day. Which makes me grin!!

On the day of my college graduation from Belmont College/University in Nashville, Tennessee…I can’t even tell you how proud and excited I was…the first female in my family to graduate from college. So many amazing, special people in my life showed up to celebrate with me. Hey guys…the tears were flowing…just sayin’!!

But look…K-12 and beyond…these years are defining moments/years in our personal development. I don’t know if this is a generational thing or just a thing. But I have very strong emotional attachments to friends that I remember having very early on in my childhood. And the fact that I am “friends” with them on social media in this day and age thrills me to the core. I have even gotten to spend quality time with some of them in person in recent years.

But this post is about “graduating.” So let’s back to the subject, shall me??

Graduation!

Such an important word and concept and life-defining moment!

The word/concept of “graduation” brings this roller coaster of emotions. So many emotions of “past trials” and “past successes,” along with the long-expected hope of what the future holds.

If you are the parent or grandparent of an upcoming grad, you know that you’ve done all you can possibly do to form and shape their mind and fill their heart. So now that the graduation time is here, you simply take a step back and allow them to shine! Everything they’ve done…all the work they’ve put in…has prepared them for the next big step…whatever that is.

When I get to moments like this, I like to look at what people before me have said…wise people who have crossed this path and have walked this road.

Here are some of my favorites:

Nora Ephron, whom I adore!, said, “Your education is a dress rehearsal for the life that is yours to lead.”

Yes!

Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Orrin Hatch said, “Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning!”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”

And some “unknown dude/dudette” said, “There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.” ( but I’d bet my left eye that my father-in-law said this at some point, for reals!)

And my all-time favorite…

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.” (Dr. Seuss)

Golly gee…I so very much want to move mountains!! Don’t you? And I’m sure all the graduating seniors across the nation want to move mountains, as well.

But here’s the crux of the matter, my friends…for you younger ones who are heading into new territories of college or careers…or you older ones who are facing empty nests (or kids coming home to live with you again), or whatever the change in your life…this is the bottom line…

“Life is 10% what happens TO you and 90% how you RESPOND to it.”

There’s no way we can control what happens to us…no matter how young or old we are. If you are “graduating” from one stage of life to another, you will admit that the unknown is very real and very scary. But always remember that, no matter what happens, you can choose to ask God to give you wisdom and you can choose how you respond. That’s the only control that we have.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (Message Paraphrase) says, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say, ‘Thank you!’ – the coyotes and the buzzards – because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth. Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.”

I recently gave a dear friend this verse. She’s about to move away from me…and things are going to be drastically different for her. (And for me, if I’m being honest.)

I am usually the very first person to say, “WHY?”

But, my sweet ones, the one-word question I need to ask every single time isn’t “why, but  “what?”

Graduating from one season into the next is sometimes exciting, sometimes terrifying, and most always uncertain. Instead of asking, “God, why is this…?” ask “God, what do you want to teach me through this?”

Choose to praise God…choose to trust Him…and choose to live each day resting in His peace.

No matter what!!

Every. Single. Day.

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