Today you have taken a step that you will remember always, the day you made the final crossing from childhood and into the realm of adulthood. It is not because of your age or the fact that you’ve met the qualifications mandated by the state to achieve this status. The issuing of the diploma is merely symbolic. Those who know you can attest to the fact that you have made this transition over a period of years with little assistance from the state or my pathetic attempts at parenting. Your maturity and grace come from a higher source, and only by your own ability to surrender to His guidance.
You have shown a level of faith that most never achieve well into their adult years. It is for this reason that I can watch you enter the world with full confidence that you will not be swayed by all the temporary pleasures that the world will thrust your way. It is this faith that you will carry with you to college and beyond. And it this faith that will carry you through all that life has to offer– the good and and the bad.
I wish I could say to you that all those you meet will be charmed and fall immediately in love with you. But you and I both know better. The world doesn’t respond well to those who don’t conform to its rules. You will be tempted beyond anything you’ve experienced so far. And when you resist these temptations made to you by those who call themselves your friends, they will quickly turn against you. Remember, those who live in the darkness fear the light. The light shining from you will offend them. It will illuminate all that is dark and ugly in their own lives. A precious few will turn to your light and embrace it. Most will curse you and the light, then flee back into the darkness.
No, this is not the usual upbeat graduation card. It is nothing you will find in a Hallmark store. This is the reality of who you are–God’s precious child.
But I will not leave it there. I will tell you how honestly proud I am of you. Your diploma, honors, and awards only make up for a portion of that pride. I am mostly proud to see that you have become a young woman, fully prepared and fully confident to take on the next challenge. And the next. And whatever God has planned for you. I do not need to offer any more fatherly advice than what is required for you to keep a car running, eating decent food, and filing taxes (which your mother will actually handle). I know that you possess the knowledge and even the wisdom to survive when you are well past the boundaries of our little town. It will be more of an adjustment for me, knowing that I’m not there to protect you, than for you, who needs no protection.
I know, I promised no advice, but allow me this one, then I’ll trust you and God to handle it from here: Your faith must come before everything in your life. Before career. Before school. Even before family. Because it is that faith that will guide you in every aspect of your life, even career and school. Especially family. Find the believers wherever you end up. They are your closest family. Then nurture one another in your faith.
Enjoy the journey, my daughter. The destination often comes far too soon.