A Message for the Sunday We Celebrate Graduating High School Seniors
So, you are off to college.
From Boston to Burlington to Bethlehem to Washington, DC.
From Upstate New York to Durham, NC.
All those places and more.
Can you believe it?
After SATs and ACTs and APs and GPAs, high school is finished.
Some of you have already graduated. For the rest of you, graduation is just around the corner.
Our sincere congratulations.
How wonderful and exciting and a bit scary all that is.
Even though you have looked at countless college websites and visited multiple campuses and had interviews and made the choice about where you would like to go, my guess is there are still some unanswered questions lurking in the back of your mind.
Will I like it as much as I think I will?
What will my classes be like? Will they be hard? Harder than high school?
Will I make friends?
Will I like my roommate?
Will my roommate like me?
When I have had my own room what will it be like to share a room with another person and share a bathroom with lots of other people?
And, this crucial question: How will I wake up in the morning if Mom or Dad don’t come in to tell me it is time to get up for school? And, this even more important question: What do I want to do and be when I grow up?
All are very real and very honest questions.
Here is what I can tell you about the questions you are asking.
Some of college will be fun. Some of it will be challenging.
Some of what you learn will come easily. Some of it will make you work harder than you have ever worked before. I hope you like the college you have chosen. If so, great. If not, its okay. It is okay to change your mind. To start again. To go some place different. To change your major. I did, and for the most part I have turned out okay. Classes will be hard. Harder than high school. You will have to learn new ways to study and to take responsibility for the work you have to do. Professors do not take attendance. You go to class or you don’t. Your Mom or Dad won’t be there to wake you up in the morning. You will make friends. Really good friends. Maybe the best friends you will ever make. I don’t know whether or not you will like your roommate. I liked most of mine, but one of my roommates was hard to live with and that was REALLY challenging for me. I hope you take a class or several classes which you can’t wait to attend even if they are scheduled for 8;00 in the morning. I hope some area of study captures not just your intellect, but your heart and soul, as well. And, here is the important part. You don’t have to figure it all out before you head to school in August.
But, here is what I really I want to say to you today.
And, what I hope you remember.
For all the questions, thoughts, hopes, dreams, concerns you have about what it will be like to go off to college, I want to remind you of two additional questions which I think are equally if not even more important than all those other questions.
What kind of person do you want to be?
What kind of world do you want to live in?
And, because I know you and your families.
And, I know the types of things you have already done.
And, the questions you have been asked to think about.
I want you, now, to carry all that and more out the doors of this place and onto your college campuses.
Alongside the question “What do I want to study?”
Ask the question, “What does it mean to be ‘the light of the world?’”
Alongside the question “Will I make friends?”
Ask the question, “How can I treat others the way I would like to be treated?’”
Alongside the question, “What do I need to do in order to be successful?”
Ask the question, “What can I do to make the world a better place not just for me, but for all of the children of earth. All of the children of God.
Alongside the question of what your major will be and what your GPA is;
Leave room for beauty and grace and forgiveness and hope.
In other words, leave room for God.
Surrounded by all of the opportunities before you and the challenges you will face, do this.
Believe there is good in the world.
Be the good in the world.