The caps, gowns and anticipation in the air. The self satisfied smiles, sighs of relief, uncertain expressions that still manage to look hopeful, that feeling of success and accomplishment in the air. If you have been to a graduation then you notice all these things. And yet if you’re the one graduating, you feel all these things; fear, anxiety, anticipation, self-satisfaction, apprehensive, exhausted and thankful to God. Graduation ceremonies are long, tedious and I personally think unnecessary as I saw from two of my own and recently my cousin’s. You do feel accomplished, thrilled and excited, even relived but that wears out as the ceremony wears on into hour three with long speeches. And afterwards you are mostly tired and worried and there is always that one person that will remind you of the long road ahead to reach ‘where you’re supposed to be’ and yet you reach there but again, there is something else to be done.
Why am I talking about this? Because I feel like as a society we are never happy with our accomplishments. I mean, a select few are but the rest of us just have that diamond rush; you know, where when a girl is proposed to with a diamond ring and she gets excited about the ring and says yes because it’s big and shiny but in a few hours or days she regrets it because she doesn’t really love the man or want him but yet can’t say so? Ok, my point is,we always seem to be working towards big things that are apparently the markings of success; we want to graduate high school and university, we want a job and promotions, a company of our own, a spouse, a new car then a better car, a better body, better clothes, hairstyle or whatever else it is to make ourselves successful.
We use these things to define success and success to define these things. That is why it is an never ending cycle of acquiring stuff, more stuff,paying bills, school, hating yourself, getting more stuff then dying. It’s like running a never-ending loop. Why do we do that? Why do we put ourselves through so much pain to achieve some notion of success that never makes us happy?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not against all these things, in fact I do agree that some of these aspirations make us better humans but I still struggle with why we feel we are less without them? Why is it that I am considered less successful if I am happy but not rich? Or I am considered uneducated if I am pursuing my dreams but do not have a high school certificate or degree? Why is it sad to be single? Why am I more beautiful with smooth skin and a small waist?
When you look at high school and university graduates and even talk to them, most are apprehensive, exhausted and could care less about the achievement. Most of them want time to sleep, follow their passions or even to find out what said passions are. They have not slept well in four years, they are depressed, some have been suicidal at some point and others didn’t even do what they wanted to do but rather what their parents wanted, their teachers expected or they were told made more money. And yet there are others who are glowing with achievement and satisfaction. They are on the right path, they maybe have a job or a business in the works, they are happy with where they are and what they did. But this last group is for the select few.
And it’s not just college grads, it’s everyone. There are those who love their job and would celebrate a promotion because it gave them more responsibility and a chance to hon their skills but most hate it and celebrate a promotion because they get more money. Some people get married because they genuinely love the person, that person completes them, they become one perfect unit together that God can use and yet most do it because they’ve been dating too long, for sex, because they’re married, their mother nags them, they don’t want to clean anymore and so many other reasons.
Why am I mentioning all this? Because I think that we first of all need to remember what success is and what we should be celebrating above all these other things.
1.finding favor with God and happiness with yourself:
If God is happy and satisfied with the way you live life, and you are then who’s to tell you anything? I’m not talking about religious rules and dress codes and stuff. I am talking about that purpose that is deep inside each and everyone and is God-given. Find it, do it and you’ll be successful. But it is also about seeking God and obeying his commands. Joshua was told in Joshua 1:7-8 that He should meditate on God’s word day and night and he will find ‘good success’ It’s not just about praying when stuff goes wrong but actually taking time out of your day to meditate and concentrate on God’s voice. Listen to his nudging and follow those quiet commands. Take time to figure out what God, who made you, wants in your life. You’ll find you’re so much happier in your passion and God-given purpose because you change your definition of what success is and just let it be about being who you are meant to be, not who others expect you to be.
2. celebrating the ‘little things’:
You know why all these graduations and job promotions are so wildly celebrated? because they are huge! It isn’t a small feat to work your way up an organization, or find a good wife/husband or compete high school/college. It’s enormous and we have every right to celebrate them. But why is it that we feel we cannot celebrate the so called ‘little things’? You think it is just so so that you woke up today? There is someone somewhere praying and crying because someone they loved didn’t wake up today. You think it’s small that you were safe throughout your day and night? There is someone who was mugged, raped, got into an accident, kidnapped or threatened today. You think it is no big deal that you have eaten today? There are people who are eating trash, emaciated,dying because of lack of food. And I can go on and on but you get the picture. Celebrate life. Stop letting things get in the way. Be happy about the rain, the sunshine, food, great music, clothes, friends, alone time, strength, work outs, cars or whatever else. We should be in a constant state of bliss. We are blessed. However hard life is right now, however tumultuous, it could be worse. This is not to diminish anyone struggle or pain or hard work towards some goal, I am just saying, take a beat to realize the things that you already have, that are going well. Whichever goal/milestone you are working towards, take time to tick off the small things.
Take time to make a brief stop and appreciate the quaint little stop overs and towns on the road to the big city.
In the end, success is what you make it, life is as good as you believe it to be and graduations aren’t just for school. Make sure you graduate from bad habits, from toxic friends, from old mindsets, from unbelief, from glory to glory. So for all who recently graduated from kindergarten, high school or college, congratulations, you did great. For those who haven’t or are far away from graduation or have never actually had a ceremony here’s to you. You’ve made it.