There’s something incredibly affirming about being seen and recognized for hard work. For the Class of 2020, they’ve been waiting for that moment when, traditionally in May, they would walk a platform, and all their family, friends, and peers would watch them receive their diplomas.
This May, however, COVID-19 is stealing that moment from high school and college seniors. It stole prom, senior week, and so many other once-in-a-lifetime moments that they’d watched prior graduating classes experience. Many feel cheated, upset, or let-down and no one can fault them for feeling that way. They should absolutely acknowledge the disappointment but refuse to let it keep them down.
Today’s post is for you, the Class of 2020.
Anticipate your moment.
That moment may not involve you crossing a literal stage, perhaps the most electrifying part of the traditional graduation ceremony. However, I challenge you to still anticipate your moment.
But how, you ask? Recently, my husband I celebrated our first anniversary at home after having to cancel the plans we’d made. It wasn’t what we had expected or wanted, but we weren’t going to let the day pass without a celebration.
You can also celebrate non-traditionally. Maybe you can plan a social-distancing-safe outdoor party with family and close friends. Another idea is to organize a caravan parade of you and your classmates, with cars decorated, driving down your streets. Perhaps you can invent a virtual party or even a delayed celebration once your state reopens.
I know this situation is not what you expected, but you can make the most of your moment. Decide what’s special and doable, and go for it!
Choose what you do with this time.
Have you read or watched Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien? One of my favorite quotes from this saga is a conversation between Frodo and Gandalf discussing the growing evil they must confront.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Timely, right? I don’t blame you, seniors, for wishing a worldwide pandemic hadn’t struck and ruined your senior-year celebrations. None of us wanted this to happen now or ever. Although we can’t control what happens to us, we can decide what to do with it.
Deciding what to do is a personal choice each of us, high school senior or not, must make. Understand you’re not alone in dealing with wrecked plans. Couples have had to cancel wedding ceremonies. Carefully made travel plans have been thrown out the window. Even the Olympics has been postponed a full year. We all feel you!
But we can’t change anything by wishing it away. So what do we do? What can you, the Class of 2020, do with this time?
Scripture speaks to this very question. Let’s take a look at James 4:13-15 NKJV:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (NKJV)
Let’s break down those ideas and apply them to our situation. Last January, we were all making plans. You were making plans to graduate, maybe deciding what college you would attend next fall. But the truth is, we didn’t know March was going to put a pandemic at our doorsteps.
How should we proceed? We shouldn’t sit around aimlessly. Instead, we should make plans but hold them loosely, not tightly. Whatever good opportunity God presents us to do today, we should do it, and trust Him for tomorrow.
My hope is that you graduates prayerfully ask God what the next right thing is for you to do.
Focus on making a difference.
I remember my own high school graduation. As far as ceremonies go, it wasn’t anything grand. My homeschool class was a total of three (my twin brother and one other student in our umbrella school).
My grades were the highest of all three, but our overseer decided that being valedictorian would benefit the other male student more than me. He probably figured I’d just be a housewife someday and didn’t need the title on my resume. (For the record, there is no such thing as “just” a housewife. Being a wife and mom is such an important role, whether or not a woman also has a career outside the home. But I digress.)
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Obviously, I was disappointed at the time, as were my parents, but today, I’m not going to go all Captain Marvel about it. I couldn’t control that I wasn’t valedictorian, and honestly, being slighted at my graduation doesn’t bother me today. The fact is that I got to choose what I did with the intellect God gave me. By his grace, I graduated college Summa Cum Laude, have published six books, have had the opportunity to speak to crowds much larger than those present during my high school graduation, and have the privilege of teaching English to my online students. And yes, I’m also proud to be a wife to the amazing man God brought into my life.
I say all that to say this: You can’t change the reality that you may not have a traditional graduation or enjoy all the regular pomp and circumstance. But you can decide what you’re going to do next with the abilities and opportunities God gives you.