As I walked from my church to my school to attend one last commencement ceremony there, I began to realize that I, too, am graduating from my school. I guess I'm slow - taking 17 years to graduate. At any rate, I feel like a graduate in the sense that this commencement marks both an ending and a beginning for me as well. I, too, am venturing into the "great unknown." So while I didn't give the speech, I find it fitting to wonder what I would say in my "Last Lecture." (For those of you unfamiliar with Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, find it and read it!)
This blog will not be as well-thought out as his, nor as all-inclusive. As a matter of fact, in some ways my entire series of blog-essays is one long "last lecture." But for our purposes here, let's just say these are some of the things I would want to say if given an opportunity to deliver such a lecture.
Trust in God. He really does know what HE is doing. We can do pretty well on our own lots of the time. But I've found that the times I have most trusted in God is precisely the most marvelous and miraculous times in my life: Choosing a college? (Trusted in God.) Choosing my husband? (Trusted in God) Choosing adoption? (We both trusted in God.) First teaching job? (God) Second teaching job? (God again.) Most recent teaching job? (Pretty certain we can say this is God again.) Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying life is a cake walk and certainly there were heartaches and trials leading up to the "happy endings" but trusting in God got me through those times, for sure.
Don't put a period where God has put a comma. This saying works hand-in-hand with the "Trust in God" advice. But it is a bit different. It has to do with ACTION and MOVEMENT and MOVING ON and GETTING THINGS DONE and VENTURING INTO THE UNKNOWN. Too many times we seek to be comfortable which can turn into complacence. Too many times we think too much about "success" and not enough about "making a difference." Too much of the time we get engrossed in ME rather than the OTHER. Don't get me wrong; I've enjoyed nearly 2 decades living in my city and working at my job, meeting new students and parents, teachers and administrators along the way. Things can be constantly changing at the same time you are staying put. But actually being willing to think outside the box and take a risk and move on to something brand new is energizing, as well. And it can be just as much about others as it is about yourself. If God calls you to move outside your comfort zone, trust that He knows what He is doing.
Don't waste time worrying. This idea is follows closely to my previous point. I made a decision when I began college to not be a worrier. I've gotten better at not worrying as time has gone by. The way I see it, worrying is a waste of precious time. Rather than worry about something, DO something. If you can't DO something, then PRAY instead. Place the worry in God's hands but don't count yourself out of the equation. When we struggled with fertility issues we did a bit of everything; we prayed (a lot), we DID what we could and what doctors suggested we do, but we didn't waste much time worrying. Que sera sera. Which brings me back to the first point: Trust God. My readers know that within a few months we will be repotting ourselves in S. Korea. This could be an occasion for much worrying, but I'm not going there. I'm preparing myself and my family the best I can; I'm placing the rest in God's hands, but I'm not worrying. And don't you either.
Fall down. Or, as I told my freshman the first day of school this year, "I want you to fail." Not literally, of course. But there is much to be said for not getting it right the first time (whatever "it" is). We aren't perfect. We shouldn't think we are perfect. We shouldn't try to be perfect. We shouldn't expect ourselves or others to be perfect. It is through falling down that we realize we are fallible. We expect a baby to fall down many times before walking; we expect a five-year old boy or girl to skin their knees from time to time. We expect an inventor to have many wrong tries before hitting the jackpot. Why shouldn't we expect the same from ourselves? Give yourself a break. Allow yourself to get it wrong. Don't apologize too much if you do get it wrong. But. . .
Get back up. Here's the secret, really. Yes, fall down. But get back up! Keep trying or change direction. Take a new angle. Think outside the box. Get some others on board. Ask for help. Create a team. Get lots of people working with you. And, you know what? Sometimes success just isn't going to happen. So, spend some time reflecting on what is really important. And this leads me to. . .
Get your priorities straight. I don't know what your priorities are or should be, but for me? God. Family. Relationships. Work. Self. (Not always exactly in that order.) One of the things I like about or impending move is that it has jolted us back to our priorities. For me that is family and friends, at the moment. I love that we are taking time to get together with good friends and that they are taking time to see us. I LOVE IT! Work tends to always demand center stage. Then homework, housework and supper. For me packing a house and getting prepared for a garage sale and selling some big items are demanding my attention. That's all good and fine, but I don't want to miss out on those visits with friends and family!
Read. Write. Walk and Play a little piano. Okay. That's me. I love to read, write, walk, and play piano. What do you love to do? Are you doing it? What gets you centered? What helps you relax? What healthy activities keeps you positive and energized? Take time for those things. Okay, let's not fool ourselves - MAKE TIME for those things. I find early morning and before bed the best time for "me time." What about you?
Find your passion and let it inspire you and others. Don't deny yourself your passion. More than that; don't deny it to the world around you. You've got that passion for a reason. Are you seeking purpose? Look to your passion! There it is. I feel fortunate to have several passions - reading, writing, teaching, singing, my family. I pray that engaging in my passions fulfills my purpose.
Leave the place better than you found it. What better way to show your respect for your room, home, community, nation, and world than to simply keep it clean! Dropped a towel in the bathroom? Pick it up. See some garbage on the neighbor's lawn? Throw it away. Don't write on the desk. Plant a tree. Recycle and reuse. Shut off the water while you brush your teeth or shower. Volunteer to clean up your downtown. Ride a bike to work or take public transportation. The Iroquois have a way of thinking - the Great Law of the Iroquois - which holds appropriate to think seven generations ahead (a couple hundred years into the future) and decide whether the decisions they make today would benefit their children seven generations into the future. That sounds about right to me.
Have a pet. No explanation needed.
Enjoy your journey!