A Graduation Season to Remember
Between virtual commencement ceremonies, parades weaving through school parking lots, and many other alternative celebrations, COVID-19 has sent the 2020 graduation season on an unexpected and disappointing detour. Appalachian State University student Kara Haselton who is actively involved with theHeart church family, shares her thoughts while also looking ahead to a bright future.
By Kara Haselton, Blog Contributor
May is usually an exciting month for seniors. Cue the graduation parties, award ceremonies, and commencement celebrations. But this year, these special events look different; they’re either virtual or postponed until…well, just postponed.
Usually graduation marks a “transition” in life, moving from one beginning onto an even better one. But what does this exciting next step look like today? Moving from being stuck at home to… being stuck at home? Do I hear a collective and subdued, “Yay”?
I really feel for graduates in 2020. And also for all the people who are transitioning from one “season” to another during this quarantined time. But I also think this is a good reminder that much of our life is lived in the stuck-at-home time, the waiting time, and the uncertain time. The graduations, commencement ceremonies, and job promotions are just mile markers on our journey.
That’s not all that exciting, I know. But for a moment, let’s look beyond the disappointment and consider the fact that we’re always transitioning into something new, even if graduation season looks different this year. For just a moment, let's allow ourselves to be sentimental about this experience. After all, sentimentality is the theme song of graduation, right?
There’s something about change and transition and “new beginnings” that causes people to reflect on their life. We see this especially in January when the calendar flips and the confetti falls. While we're always changing and becoming something new spiritually and emotionally, it’s the obvious visible change that forces us to take time to take a long look in the mirror.
The reason these times of transition are often such a big deal is that this is when we finally take the time to look back on our lives and see how all the pieces came together. We remember what it was like when we started at a new place and weren’t sure how we were going to make friends. Or we remember when major plans fell apart and we asked ourselves What good could possibly come out of this? We cringe at the thought of all these anxieties and disappointments and uncertainties. Yet at the same time we joyfully exhale because we're now looking at them from the other side.
We finally see the truth in Romans 8:28, that God does work all things together for the good of those who trust in Him.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."—Romans 8:28
We say to ourselves If only I knew what was to come…I wouldn’t have worried. I wouldn’t have been afraid. So often we forget that God is right there with us, at all times. And He is always on the other side of things. He lovingly watches as we frantically try to fix our falling-apart world. And God smiles because He knows the plans He has for us will bring good out of it. If only we stopped and rested in what He’s done for us in the past—always.
When I graduated high school, I was especially sentimental. I had grown a lot over those four years, built wonderful relationships with teachers and fellow students, and discovered my passions. I was so overwhelmed by the opportunities God was giving me.
Perhaps sentimentality is why I love cheesy metaphors. After all, those are the ones that stick with you. And I find them to help me better grasp life as it's flying by me.
Here’s one such cheesy metaphor I wrote to my fellow seniors for graduation. Though I am a couple of years removed from that memorable day, I hope this also blesses the class of 2020, the ones who are going to be part of the next generation:
See God In It
Our world has so much goodness and beauty in it…but it would be horribly remiss for us not to also stop and realize that everything that is good is good because there is an element of God in it. His reflection is in everything. And yet we need to remember, it is a reflection.
True goodness can only be found in God, and anything we see to be good apart from God is only a result of forgetting to remember who God is.
Sometimes we get so amazed by the things God has created that we focus too hard on His creations and forget to pursue our Creator, to look to Him. How sad that is! And how much we miss out on.
Reflect and Look Forward
Graduation is a time to both reflect and look forward. We consider how all the pieces of our life’s mosaic fit together. And hopefully we remember that when we don’t see where each piece fits—just when it seems like God must have made a mistake—our Creator is masterfully and perfectly painting the masterpiece that is our life in Him. And while it doesn’t make sense now, in the future we’ll look back and see what a beautiful masterpiece it ended up making, even if each element itself was honestly really boring. Or confusing. Or frustrating. Or stressful.
So seniors (and everyone else who is changing) as you transition and move into this new "season," whatever that may look like, I hope you will remember what an important role we all have to play. We are all masterpieces that make up the larger beautifully interwoven mosaic of humanity.
God is the ultimate Artist who sees how everything fits together even when we don’t. Let’s trust in Him, have faith in Him, and celebrate how God is working for the good of those who love Him. It truly is beautiful.
Your Voice Matters
Sharing how this time of uncertainty has affected you can be life-changing. It gives you the opportunity to process things while also allowing your church family to learn something profound from your experience. Through your personal story, we all get to see God at work in real and meaningful ways. And don't we all need that kind of hope right now? Understandably sharing your story can feel intimidating, but we want to give voice to your insights—they matter. Whether it's written, captured with photos, or recorded on your iPhone, would you consider contributing to theHeart Blog? Here's how it works:
Email your story idea to firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh will contact you directly to discuss how best your story can be told on theHeart Blog (written, photos, video).