Last Saturday we marked another big family day. Patty is a scrapbooker, and this event will get a couple pages in the book. Jonathan, our second son and third child, graduated from college. The whole family traveled to Indiana Wesleyan University to celebrate this big day and major accomplishment.
I’m a proud and grateful dad. My pride and gratitude are not based on the fact that he has a college degree, although that’s great. None of my children need a degree to make me proud. It’s what that degree represents, what his graduation symbolizes. That’s why this is a big moment.
Jonathan’s graduation speaks to me of all these things:
- A goal, a calling, a purpose. The reason Jonathan went to college is because it is a necessity for fulfilling his goal, purpose, and calling. Jonathan knows that God has called him to minister to people, and his immediate goal was to get the education required to effectively minister as God has called and gifted him to do. His graduation is the completion of the first part of that goal. I celebrate that.
- Perseverance. Everyone who has had a big goal, a course to follow, knows that starting is easier than finishing. Young people who go away to school know the bouts of homesickness, the challenge of making new friends, learning new routines, and that there are many temptations to quit. Jonathan’s graduation means he stuck with the hardest classes, the ones he didn’t want to take and required everything of him to finish. It means when he was homesick and wanted to return to the security and safety of Sugarcreek from time to time, he fought it off and stayed. He persevered for four years. He started something and finished it. Finished it well. I celebrate that.
- Adulting. Let’s face it. Adulting is hard. All of us have moments when we’d rather crawl back under the covers, and just let someone else take care of us. We wish we could shed our responsibilities and have someone else make sure we get to where we need to go, run our schedule, take care of deadlines. To go away to school and graduate from college, Jonathan had to be able to wake up on time, get himself to appointments without assistance, go to classes regularly, maintain a schedule, make decisions, take responsibility to care for his own basic needs, develop friendships, and make wise choices about relationships. He had to choose his own standards for life away from the control and watchful eye of his dad and mom. Do you realize that many 40- to 50-year-old men and women don’t have a grip on that yet? Chronologically, they are in mid-life, but they have never yet mastered the tasks of adulthood. Jonathan has passed all these tests and is on to the next stage of life. I celebrate that.
- Seasons Changing. Jonathan’s graduation has thrust us all into a new phase of life. We’ll always be Dad and Mom, but our roles and the way we do them have changed. Jon is a full-fledged man of God now. He is responsible to God and himself for his life. He treats us with great respect and honor, but he doesn’t look to us for permission or control. We get to bless him as he honors God. He’ll be a man in his childhood room for a few months, waiting for the time to start the next season of life. He is going to Arizona soon for a wonderful opportunity to get his master’s degree in ministry. He’ll soon be making choices about where to live, where to work, and with whom he will spend his life. It is our continual prayer that his heavenly Father will guide those choices. Patty and I will be asking God to help us give counsel when asked, to pray without ceasing, and to trust him to God without interference. It’s a new season for all of us. I celebrate that.
I am a proud and grateful dad. When I was a kid, we used to mark special days by Dad measuring our heads against the wall and seeing how much we had grown, how big we had become since last time. I don’t have a way to measure Jonathan like that. He passed me in height by quite a bit some time ago. But this measurement is what makes me gratefully proud: Jonathan has become a man of God. His graduation is worth a big celebration because of everything it means.
Congratulations, Jonathan! I couldn’t be more grateful or proud.