I’ve been in tears all week over the weekend ahead. I’m missing the graduation of my favorite brother-for-the-moment.* He’s worked tremendously hard in the midst of his first year of marriage, and I’m over-the-moon proud. It’s also the graduation of a few of my favorites that I had the privilege of loving in person during my recent Residence Life days. And it is also a painful reminder of the other graduation I’m missing a few weeks from now for another favorite-for-the-moment brother, as he graduates from high school, brave and kind.
*Since I’m the only sister, my three brothers could easily say that I’m the favorite. But unless I were to play favorites, I couldn’t quite find the perfect response until I coined the phrase “ my favorite brother-for-the-moment” which has brought its share of laughs and the intended sisterly affection.
I know not many people like graduation ceremonies. It may sound silly to some that I’m in tears over the fact that I’m missing it. They are arguably a little boring; a few hours invested for a few seconds cheering for the name you know, a moment of the person you love walking across the stage. But here I am crying that I can’t be there.
But to me, graduation is more than what it appears on the surface. It is more than an achievement or a celebration. It is the beauty of becoming. It is the grace of the process. It is the mark of much faithfulness.
So here’s to them, my dear friends, my much-loved brothers, those I am missing on their graduation day:
My dearest graduate,
I’m so sad to miss you walk across that stage. I want to scream and holler and hoot when your name gets called. I want to embarrass you in public, letting everyone know how glad I am to know you. (But I suppose in some way, I am doing it now, in this on-line version.) I long to hug you tight and whisper to you how proud I am.
I think that graduation represents so much more than just getting a degree or another achievement to pin to your chest. I see it as representing the tally of so many small, quiet, often unseen acts of faithfulness, again and again, over these college years.
That’s what I’m celebrating.
That’s why I’m so proud of you.
That’s why I’m grieved to miss your graduation.
Not just for the accolades you’ll receive (which I’m so glad you’re getting.)
Not just for the grades you got and the accomplishment of graduating.
Not just for the moments when people saw you loving well or showing up or doing what was right.
But for all the moments that went quietly by, unseen by most or all.
You dear friend, have been faithful.
And I honestly can’t believe that I got to see some of those quiet moments of faithfulness. What a gift Jesus gave me in that front row seat for our time of sharing life together. I saw you loving well, when others missed it. I saw you showing up, when you were tired. I saw you being brave, when it cost you much and you were afraid. I saw you fighting for what is good and right, behind the scenes. I saw you, vulnerable and alive, letting Jesus make you more of who you were meant to be.
And that’s not to say you did everything right or have no regrets. I’m not saying there weren’t mistakes or blunders. But I want to put them rightly in their place, the way Emerson says to:
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
I may not be there on Saturday when you walk across that stage, but that doesn’t mean I’m not cheering you on, as you transition out of this particular form of academic life into a new season.
I’m so excited for you. And not because you have everything about your life figured out or because you have a set plan. Not because you know what you want to be when you “grow up” or have the perfect job lined up. Not because you have no fears or worries about what is to come.
But because the practice of being faithful, the practice of showing up and being brave, the practice of following Jesus into the mess, the practice of loving well is going with you. You are practiced in putting aside your old nonsense and taking courage by the hand for what is ahead. I love who you are becoming. I long to hug you tight and whisper how proud I am to know you.
You are so brave and kind and wonderful.
I am so, so proud to know you. I love you.
Happy, happy graduation.