A few weeks ago, my only daughter graduated high school. It has been a time of very mixed emotions as we have said goodbye to her school years and childhood, turned the page, and are now beginning this new chapter in her life.
It seems like just yesterday… not when she began school, not when she was born… but the day I myself graduated high school. Twenty-two years ago I walked across the platform to shake hands with the head administration and receive my own diploma of high school completion. I felt my life was really just beginning… it was all there, unwritten before me. I thought my future would be the perfect fairytale with all my dreams unfolding as planned.
*Insert record scratch now*
Then reality smacked me in the face; life hit hard and throughout the last 22 years I have traveled a very long, winding, difficult path. With many mistakes, you gain much wisdom….
So today I would like to share a few thoughts in a letter to my daughter and the Class of 2012.
To my dearest Savannah Grace and your graduated peers:
You have arrived. You have now officially completed the first stage of your life. You are getting ready to move into the next chapter in your own, personal stories. Most will go to college, some into the workforce, others the military, or missions, or some may even be planning a future wedding. The world is before you. You are a generation with big plans… you have seen the mistakes of your parents and you are determined not to follow. You have heard the same old political agenda and you are ready to chart a new course. You know the state of our environment and the urgency of worldly causes… you are ready to make a difference. You have more resources, technology and awareness than any other generation before you… you can make this happen. With diploma in hand, you are ready to hit the ground running. You have my full support.
But I caution you to prepare for “Plan B”. Please don’t get me wrong; it is wonderful to make plans, have goals and map out your future. For some of you, you will attain all that your hopes and dreams can afford you. But for many of you… life will happen. There will be unexpected life altering phone calls, lost jobs, spouses who leave, an unexpected diagnosis, failed plans, wrong turns….
I can assure you that when I graduated, neither being an almost 40 year old, separated woman raising 4 children on my own, nor the very difficult circumstances I have gone through were a part of my “long term plan”.
…but life happened.
So always prepare for the future, but live each day as it comes.
Many of you have already adopted this outlook as “YOLO”… (for those older generation folks who are reading this, YOLO means “You Only Live Once”).
True. But there seems to be a carefree, almost reckless mentality that follows YOLO. You are young; you have few worries… you just want to live your life having fun. I get it. There was a time when I had a very similar outlook to my own life. Just remember, every action has a consequence… positive or negative. You may not see it today, but many choices will affect you tomorrow, next year or even in the many decades to follow. Many of these consequences can be far reaching, affecting your family, your friends and your own future spouses and children. I ask that you stop and think before you act….
I think a better slogan to adopt would be “Carpe Diem”… seize the day. This mentality allows you to make the most of every opportunity, enjoying each moment of each day to the absolute fullest, but is also more intentional… instead of careless, it is thoughtful… instead of leaving regrets, it creates a sense of accomplishment, of fulfillment, of purpose. It allows you to see the world and the people you love in a whole new way!
If you don’t have everything figured out by now (which I know many of you believe you do…), it is okay! You will change more between the ages of 18 and 23 than you will any other time in your life. You will go from living under your parents shelter to becoming adults in a productive world, standing on your own two feet. Enjoy the adventure of becoming You, the adult. You will never be able to go back… so take what you have learned (the good, the bad and the ugly), and just keep walking forward!
My most important advice to you is to just keep Christ first in your life and in all you do. God has created you with a very distinct purpose… you are here for a reason. You were created for His glory. You can walk your own path, search for your own happiness, and look for everything else in the world to fill the void that your soul was created with; but in the end, it will all fail you and leave you empty. As the wise Solomon said in Ecclesiates… it is all meaningless.
The God of the universe has created this beautiful, magnificent thing called “Life”. He has filled it with laughter, pain, beauty, emotion and wonder. He has given us breath for our lungs, pulse for our veins and love for our souls. Don’t miss out on the joy and peace that only comes from having a personal relationship with The Creator… you won’t be sorry, and the benefits will last throughout this journey and into all of eternity!
May you take time each and every day to notice the little things… to appreciate the beauty all around you… to mean what you say… to not overlook the mundane. Life passes so quickly…. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. May you not get so caught up in a quote, a slogan or a life manifesto that you are only filled with great thoughts and ideas; may you actually live them out to the fullest!
Let go of the little things that in the end have no value.
Hold on to every true friendship… sometimes water is thicker than blood!
Don’t put your faith in people, but rather put all hope, faith and trust in God above; He will never fail you! Never give up on Him, even on the difficult days!
Be a person of character, integrity and honor… that is how you will want to be remembered.
Love deeply, with abandon… forgive easily, as we have been forgiven… and be compassionate, as you never know the full story of where a person has been.
I pray all your dreams come true, but I pray more importantly that you find the deeper meaning of life within your soul.
May you find the beauty in each and every day that you walk upon this earth!
A personal note to my only daughter:
I have loved you from before I even knew you! I am so proud of the strong young woman you are becoming. I will stand by you always; I will never leave you! Your eyes are full of much pain, yet I see the new twinkle of your future. Spread your wings, baby girl… take this flight… soar high into the unknown. Mama bird will always be cheering you on! You’ll be forever in my heart.
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, NLT)
*To my readers… what other advice do you have for the graduated Class of 2012? I would love to hear your additional thoughts!!
May you find the beauty in today,
“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥
Recent entries from my gratitude journal: (to read more about this, click here)
123. Black wooden barn with bright red roof
125. Cute Baby sneezes!
129. House full of fun!
132. Daughter’s creativity