My daughter recently came home with a big box. “Hey, Dad,” she said. “Check this out!” She spilled its contents on the table, and I let out a deep sigh.
There were graduation announcements, a robe, a cap and tassel. In short, everything necessary to prove that my daughter is graduating from high school this year.
With countless parents from eons past, I asked, “Where did the time go?” It seems like just last week, she and her classmates were walking into Evergreen Elementary with their little backpacks and lunchboxes, eager to learn and grow and play at recess. Now, high school is over and college looms near.
A lot of emotions are bubbling to the surface for me, but two stand out. The first is gratitude.
Nobody arrives at adulthood completely by their own doing. It takes parents, grandparents, extended family, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, youth pastors and a host of others who have poured their lives into these graduates.
I know I can’t take credit for the smart, witty, intelligent young people my daughter and her friends have become. I’m glad so many partnered in teaching them math, science, music and literature; I’m indebted to those who taught them to hunger for knowledge and search for truth. I’m thankful to God that he’s surrounded my daughter with so many good, caring, supportive people.
At the same time, I’m filled with hope. These kids are smart, savvy and ready to take on the world. Coming of age in the post-9/11 world, today’s graduates carry an understanding of the depth of the problems facing our world and a hunger to bring positive change.
By no fault of their own, they have inherited a world plagued by complex difficulties. They are the generation of school shootings, terrorist bombings, financial disparity, climate change and politics-as-reality-television. We’ve messed things up for them.
Yet, when I look at my daughter and her classmates, I’m left with hope that they’ll find a better way. They are politically active, informed and passionate. Perhaps God is raising up a much-needed generation to talk some sense to the rest of us.
Of course, I’m filled with nostalgia, as well. There are so many memories of camping trips, days exploring the Puget Sound shoreline, birthday parties, Christmas mornings, French toast Saturdays, car rides to school and back, tickle fights and snuggles, baseball games and ferry rides. It’s hard to let our children grow up.
This, though, is the way of life. We’re given babies, children and teenagers for but a short moment in time, and then we get to release them to the world. Hoping, praying and believing we’ve prepared them as best we can, we now watch with pride as they embark on this thing called adulthood.
To Olivia, Natalie, Genni, Isaac, Zander, Savvy and the rest of the class of 2018, congratulations. Now go out there and make us all proud. And to all who have taught them, molded them, loved them and shaped them, thank you. Our world is a better place for all your efforts.
Dan Whitmarsh is pastor at Lakebay Community Church.