This Saturday I’m going to commencement and getting my diploma. It doesn’t feel real yet.
Over past five years I’ve lived on my own, or with my family, taking care of my six younger siblings and bed-ridden mother while going to school full time. Even after she got better I worked—sometimes 60 hours a week—and helped in the children’s ministry at my dad’s church.
I’m so tired.
A part of me is angry that after countless sleepless nights, beautiful weekends spent indoors, and sacrificed relationships all I’m getting is a mound of debt and an embossed sheet of paper. I tell myself it’s just another stepping stone to law school, but what I hear myself saying is, “Great. Yet another obstacle in my way.”
I should get used to it.
At the risk of sounding clichéd and insincere, I’m going to remind myself once again that no one—especially me—deserves a problem-free life. I need to realize that the person who goes untested is a worthless person incapable of helping themselves or those around them in times of need. I’m blessed to have gone through so much in college. Loss, tragedy, unending loneliness and sacrifice—worth it if it helps just one person going through something worse to know there is a life after you’ve hit rock bottom. There is hope to go on when everything—everything—in your life is pushing against you, holding you down.
There are butterflies in my gut, rising and falling every time I think about walking into that stadium and standing side-by-side with my peers. I never thought I was going to get to that point. This seemingly unimportant milestone feels huge to me. I paid for my school, I took out debts in my name, and I did all my own work— made the honor roll for most of it, too. But that’s not why I finally feel like I’ve earned a place in the commencement ceremony.
Though unspeakable pain I’ve learned that I’m strong, that I can bear the weight of anything as long as I stay close to God. Without Him, I really would be dead. I know that, somewhere deep inside me it rings truer than anything I’ve ever written.
So I’m pushing away my cynicism and anger and I’m going to skip onto that football field Saturday with my head held high. Despite my best efforts, I am alive, I am healthy, and I am heading for brighter, better days. Not days free from worry or tragedy, but days I know I can face head-on because God gives me peace, and he gives me joy.