Alma Mater: The Path of Life
This prompt is significant to me. As valedictorian for my high school graduating class, I gave the speech. I remember my knees shaking as I sat waiting for my turn to speak. I remember the theme for the graduating class that year was “We’ve only just begun to live.” Of course, it will be a 40-year anniversary next year and to draft a speech includes a lot of experience and key points of wisdom to share. Therefore, it is my pleasure (with less nervousness) to respond to this post. So, here goes…
One of the first things I would share is that faith in God is necessary for real and true growth. This life is not just about financial success, but life success with balance in all the areas including personal balance (emotionally and spiritually). Life has its curve balls. All the best laid plans can and sometimes do change. However, focus is key. Life events and changes work together to make us better, to grow us in areas that need growth.
Graduating from high school is the beginning of the journey for the adult life. That said, it is important at this juncture that you have conquered your demons. This means you are at a place that you deal with your issues, take care of your responsibilities and live life to the fullest. The serenity prayer is very important in that it does clarify what that means in this single phrase. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is pretty much where all the different areas of life fall into place.
One thing I have learned is that the only person I can change is myself. Many years were spent trying to help others change. Conclusion, you can only give others the tools for change and the rest is up to them. That includes our friends and family members including children, spouse and even siblings.
I have learned that courage is moving forward in spite of fear. Life has dealt some cruel cards to be played and more than anything, the only thing I could do is move forward despite the pain and fear. Have I perfected this? Of course not. I do move forward though. Dealing with the cards you are dealt is not only necessary but vital to truly living. In that, I seek the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I know that Jesus died for my sins and that (…He came that we might have life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). I needed Him more than I knew. Mid-twenties found some great disappointments but God was there for me and still is. Some in the world may think that believing in Jesus is a crutch. Call it what you will, I needed Jesus to heal my heart in this ongoing search for meaning outside of things and accomplishments. Life is not just about the next accolade or the next financial rung. Money is important to handle responsibilities but life is so much more than that.
This life is about discovering the uniqueness God has given you and sharing that with the world around you. Technology has surely changed things since that first speech, but the real things are not new. Love, honesty, sincerity, character, integrity are certainly on the list of “…And there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As we deal with the aging process in our own bodies, the extension of family members from the births and marriages of our children as well as the births of our grandchildren, we can enjoy seeing the growth of new lives that God has blessed us with so generously.
I know that I made mistakes in my journey and sometimes those mistakes had harsh consequences. Other times those mistakes opened doors of opportunity to move forward for the better. I know that my prayers for my family (especially when I made a crazy choice) were honest to the God of salvation. All in all, my heart at this point in my life is that my family and friends accept Christ as their Lord and Savior; that they live life to the fullest honoring the uniqueness God has blessed them with by using the gifts to honor Him and bless others; and, no less, build their relationship with Jesus.
The only constant is change and it is so accurately proven in this aging process. I do know that I do appreciate my life. I don’t live with a lot of regret because I am who I am now because of what I have experienced; the good, the bad and the ugly. And, who’s to say that if you had made a different choice, you would have come out any better? Different maybe, but not necessarily better. We can choose to make better choices in the “now” and enjoy the richness of this life more abundantly.