Saturday, June 6, 2015

from me to you.

Dear high school graduate,
Congratulations! You have worked hard to get to this day, and you are saying goodbye to a season of your life that has lasted for thirteen years. Many of you have plans for what comes next, and I can certainly relate to the feelings of excitement and anticipation of opening up a brand new chapter that will hold much more than you know. You will make new friends, you'll slowly see old friends become acquaintances (feeling somewhat powerless as this happens), you will try new things, you will make mistakes, and you'll have plenty of decisions (both big and small) to make as you continue becoming an adult. You will smile more, cry more, get more headaches, laugh more, study more (if you want to pass your classes, of course) experience more confusion, and sleep less (usually because of the previously mentioned predictions). It has been eight years since I graduated from Hillcrest High School, and I still remember that glorious evening like it was yesterday. I was oblivious to just how many changes were on the horizon, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the spotlight as I proudly wore my cap and gown + gave my cheesiest grin with every flash of the camera.

Although the memories that I made while I was in college were (mostly) good + full of cheer, I still left with regrets. If I could share one piece of wisdom with you, it would be this: don't forget to really engage with the ones who have walked with you up to this point - your family. That may sound like a no brainer, but this is something that I failed to do and didn't realize it until just a couple of years ago. Sure, I would talk to them several times a week, and we would chat about shenanigans + share stories about our days, but I didn't take into consideration that I wasn't there anymore, so I didn't really know what all was going on. I was happy, the voices I heard on the phone sounded happy, we made happy memories when they came to visit (and vice versa), so I never really took the time to ask questions that went past the surface or to look deep into their eyes. It was selfish, really, and I had somehow tricked myself into thinking that this was my time to experience the world on my own, and that everyone else would be just fine. I was naive, and I missed out on a lot of opportunities to love on + comfort those who had loved me the longest + hardest. My experiences + accomplishments were typically the topic of discussion, and while everyone sincerely enjoy celebrating with me, I ignored + overlooked moments to celebrate them, too. This is a lesson I'm still learning, and although I have progressed by the grace of God, I know I will be fighting my fleshly desires to be the center of attention for the rest of my life.

So, graduate, my challenge to you is simple: keep your eyes open. Self-consummation is more popular today than it was eight years ago, but you can be an advocate for treating others better than you do yourself. We can be used to change the way our society functions, becoming more others-oriented in a self-oriented culture, but it won't be easy. A good thing to have while walking along a hard path is a friend to share the road with, and there are many who want to take this trip with you (myself included). As much fun as it is being the center of attention, it's even better to step out of the spotlight and help others find the Light that we're all searching for. I wish I would have realized that sooner, and now that my eyes have been opened to this truth, it is my prayer that you'll learn from my mistakes instead of making them for yourself.

Enjoy this season, celebrate with your whole heart, get excited for what is coming next, and embrace all the joy that's coming your way, but don't get sucked in to believing the lie that your life is the only one that matters. Seek out moments to love the ones who mean the most to you, be intentional about showing them how much they mean to you, and assure them that they aren't fighting their battles alone. Let sincerity and love be what motivate you to do more than what is expected of you. Do more than just share the spotlight - give it away!

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