Yes. I officially am a graduate. Very strange feeling really. I woke up today feeling like I was fixin’ to be on the brink of a new and different day. As I ended it, that feeling didn’t change so much.
I spent time trying to be ready for what was to come, but I really feel like there was no real way to do so. I guess that maybe I was just lying to myself. Oh well.
I got to graduation and spent a significant amount of time trapped in a subterranean basement chamber trying to be organized into numbers that allowed for an alphabetical arrangement. Lots of people ended up going against the grain and sat with the people they wanted to sit with, that seemed silly to me because there was an order for a reason. Right? Of course right. In the end I got to sit with friends who did that, but I held strong. Their choices made my time far more bearable when we sat.
Then I trooped out to my seat amid a crowd of graduates to general screaming from families and friends.
I sat down. For about 3 hours. It wasn’t bad, but it was surely not the most comfortable thing ever. I sent many text messages. I also critiqued middle names with Amy McNair and Maisha Seebeck. Fun stuff.
Eventually after cheering for lots of people, I got up there, gave President Eaton a hug (lifted him off the ground), got my degree holder, and then went back to my seat. It was all over in seconds. I sat down and I was a college grad.
After this I went out to dinner with the folks, Came home, Saw some friends, bought myself a beer (yes, singular), and then hung out until now.
These are my thoughts:
In general graduation happened really fast. There was a massive build-up in which I have experienced most emotions known to man that lasted about 2 weeks, but the event itself was really quick and easy. I would say it was too quick and easy.
For all the time that it took us to get there, it ended fast. Not that after 4 years of university I really desired a long and drawn out sort of experience to end it. I was ready to be done, but somehow I think being done only really started with graduation. Does that make sense? I mean in most ways we have finished college. We graduated. Yet, it seems to me that there’s a lot more work to be done in fully and properly processing this time.
I have been in college for 4 years. 4 years of my life is built around and in patterns related to higher education. Suddenly, I am no longer in college. How do I learn to deal with the reality of life in a completely new and foreign context in which all decisions suddenly become my responsibility? Ah, yes. That’s why I say that we’ve only just begun to be done. I doubt that we will ever be done fully. There are things that we will never be done with founded in college and rightfully so. These are things like learning, relationships, staying healthy, and so on. These thing should keep going.
On the other hand, 16 years of my life has taken place in school. I know the world of being a student. It’s comfortable. Being a graduate means not being a student anymore (for the time being). It took me 16 years to learn to be a student. How long will it take for me to learn to adapt to life not as a student? That needs to happen. Sadly, we can’t keep running out to Dick’s burgers at 2am. I get tired. Bed time gets earlier. Dare I say that at some level we all need to stop being in college so we can learn to be adults? Perhaps it’s too bold. Still, think about it…How would you do the things you want to do after school if school never ended?
It hit me every once in awhile today that I am going to go to camp for the summer and when I come back, the likelihood of some people having left is fairly high. How many of my fellow graduates will be about? How many of them will I never see again? Those are hard questions.
On a more theological standpoint, I suppose that we need to step into the unknown. If we stay where life is safe, how can we learn to trust God with our present and future? Interestingly enough, I believe that the same God that brought us to this place and helped us cultivate the community that we are graduating out of is the same God that goes with us where we go in the future. God gave us what we have for the time in which we have had it. He was with us the whole time. He never left.
Our present and future as graduates (and otherwise) are being guided and shaped by God’s relation to us. It seems silly to expect anything less than more and more great experiences and growth from the God that shoos us into His service through an inexorable moment like graduation that is itself only the culmination of 4 years of blessing.
Perhaps what I am trying to say is that the Lord is was with us when we came to SPU. He was with us while we were attending SPU. He is still with us now as we leave SPU. In each of the first two stages I have seen God bless me. Through friends, experiences, hardships, etc…You name it, and I have been blessed through it. My life has been used for my good (and hopefully for the good of others.) The Lord has drawn closer to me. That is super cool. Why would the God of the universe who loves us all more than we could ever know or explain want to stop drawing near to us? I can’t conceive of anything.
With that in mind maybe we should be rejoicing. I guess if we’re really realistic we know that in college the Lord has revealed more of himself to us and will keep doing so. Graduating means more Jesus. So in that case I submit that perhaps graduation is the best thing for us at the moment. We get to keep moving forward towards God. It hurts, it’s confusing, we lose things we know, but what we gain in the Lord outweighs everything else.
Yes. Today I am no longer a college student. I am a graduate. I have experienced some loss as a result and will continue to experience more. However, it is because I am no longer a college student that I am given the greatest of possibilities. I am given a life in which the Lord can work. I am given the grace to follow. I am granted the fullness of opportunity to follow the Lord like Abraham did when God called him to a land that God would show him.
He didn’t know where he was going, but the journey with God that was Abraham’s made his life one that reflected God so much that He is the father of judeo-christian faith. In graduating we get the chance to be like Abraham. We get the chance to have a relationship with God that takes us somewhere new, unexpected, and altogether worthwhile. Cool, isn’t it?