My news feed is full of commencement addresses. Some are going viral because they’re funny, while others are drawn from a deep well of inspiration. I began to reflect on the value I received from my own education, and what I might say to this year’s grads.
I chuckle–and I think many of my former professors would as well, but I was chosen as Westminster Academy’s Alumnus of the Year this year.
I laugh, because looking back, I was not a model high school student. I wasn’t number one at anything. I wasn’t super spiritual, a star athlete, and didn’t have the highest GPA. In everything I did, I could have been described as mediocre.
I entered high school at a crisis moment. I had been raised in Lebanon by missionary parents, and grew up in a war zone. When things got too dangerous, we were evacuated to France, then to the U.S.
When I enrolled in the academy, I was struggling from culture shock. The re-entry was brutal, and I was simply trying to navigate living in the states for the first time.
What I remember most are the seeds planted in my life during that time – seeds that had been planted, and in reflection…30 years later…had grown and flourished.
When I was called into the principal’s office for forging my mom’s signature, the principal planted a seed of grace and mercy and walked me through restoration instead of simply levying justice and punishment.
My creative writing teacher would love to know that many books and a blog have been birthed out of the seeds that were planted during her class.
The seeds of confidence, which were planted in debate and drama class, aid me as I stand up and do public speaking almost daily.
Even in failures there were valuable seeds planted. When I failed biology and had to take summer school, the seed of hard work was planted and took root as I learned that laziness produces more work – so you’d better do it right the first time.
My story was the same then as many coming out of high school and college now – individuals realizing they are mired in mediocrity, stuck somewhere between struggle and success.
I want them to know that – whether they realize it or not – every interaction, experience, and relationship has planted seeds in their life. Their job now is to take what God has entrusted to them and cultivate it. God will bless those who live a faithful life by transforming the seeds that were planted into a fruitful abundance.
My years at the academy were not my best in terms of performance. However, they were so formative. That time could have been the beginning of a downward spiral, but were, instead, a propelling upward momentum. The fact that I am publicly receiving this honor is now starting to fully sink in. I’m amazed at how emotional and deeply moved I am about it. Sometimes we need to reflect on how, in the midst of pivotal moments in our lives, God in His sovereignty puts us in the exact right place to protect and develop us. Many times hindsight affords us the ability to appreciate the love and goodness He constantly provides on every step of the journey.