I was recently privileged to attend the High School Graduation ceremony for one of my neighbors. It was unique in my experience for two reasons:
1)It is the first time I’ve witnessed a homeschooling graduation ceremony
2)It is the only graduation ceremony I have attended in which no one suffered from heat exhaustion.
Mind you, I’m not an expert in these matters. I nearly missed my own High School graduation over the trivial matter of a bounced check. I’m ashamed to admit that I skipped my favorite brother’s graduation from the College of Knowledge so I could pack up my dorm room, less than a quarter-mile from the stadium. My own subsequent graduation from that same College was marred by the lack of a single P.E. credit … they mailed me my diploma in the Fall, after I corrected that deficiency — who knew that 3 years in the Army didn’t count as physical exercise!
The young Lady who was honored last Sunday is a woman of considerable faith and purpose; she is widely admired throughout the area (I can safely use that particular phraseology because she is far from wide). Arriving late, as is our inimitable style, we were forced to stand (although ultimately we took refuge in the ‘crying room’ where we could view the ceremony through a large window and occasionally overhear it on an internal speaker). Many others had to stand, which proved to me once again that there is no great advantage in arriving on-time to such affairs. One of my friends from the Duckabush remarked to me later, “I knew I was late when I saw you going in ahead of me.” This is just one of the many benchmarking services our family provides, along with thresholds for behavior in Church, amount of food consumed at potluck dinners, and other important social boundaries. As my uncle Steve (no stranger to circular logic) always says at buffet-style meals, “We’d better get some food before the greedy people do!”
There were perhaps 130 people attending the event, which is a very good turnout considering that it was in celebration of a single graduate, not to mention our remote rural setting. Having watched the graduate grow into a young woman over the past 5 years, I was very pleased to see our community heaping honors on her family and joining with her in commemorating this first important transition to adulthood.
There being no lack of speakers at the event, I didn’t feel called to stand up and say a few words (especially inside the crying room); but here on this blog I enjoy the heady opportunity to freely declaim with no regard for the sensitivities (or interest) of my reader(s).
Although I intended to keep this blog entry anonymous, I am finding it awkward to refer to my subject as “my neighbor”, “the graduate”, “this young Lady”, etc. So (to preserve her from undue scrutiny) we will make up a pseudonym for her … let’s call her “Kara”.
Once in a long while you meet someone who is truly exceptional, not in a single skill or characteristic, but across the board. Kara, due in no small part to the godliness and care of her parents, abounds in graciousness, kindness, integrity, joyfulness, patience, self-control, and above all, a servant heart. Her willingness to help and serve others is in some ways the defining mark of her character … she seems to really view herself as a “servant of God”.
Many teenagers are consumed with the desire to win the approval of their peers or flirt with sin … but Kara has been steadfast in her desire to win the approval of her God. She has consistently chosen to be pure in spite of considerable pressure to conform to the pattern of the world.
People like Kara are sometimes hard to understand for the rest of us, so I’ve compiled a list of ways to relate to them:
- If you want to spend time with her, be needy. She can’t even begin to resist someone who requires help, and you can happily bask in her presence as long as you can maintain at least the appearance of your need. Be warned, however: people like Kara are in high demand, and others will greedily seek to poach her away.
- If you need to talk about yourself, seek her out. She has time, interest and compassion for other people; indeed, getting her to talk about herself can be a major challenge.
- If you want to hold her interest, talk about God. Kara is passionate about her Lord and will talk with you for hours about Him.
- If you want to know the right thing to do, watch Kara. She has tremendous insight about the best way to please God and consistently makes good choices and models godly conduct.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure Kara has many of the same struggles with sin that plague the rest of us. She can probably be cranky and maybe even mean (although it is hard to imagine). But she seems to have reached a level of spiritual maturity far beyond her years, and she deserves to be honored if for no other reason that she freely acknowledges everything as a gift from God and gives glory to Him at every opportunity.
I’m really excited about what the future holds for Kara. As she herself said, “Many 18-year-olds have little idea what they will do next week, let alone next year.” (Some paraphrasing may have occurred.) But it is not hard to imagine her choosing a path to medical missions and becoming a loving wife and mother to some fortunate young man. As we drove home, I had a sudden vision of another ceremony, perhaps 70 or 80 years in the future, where crowds of people touched by her life gather to honor the home-going of a godly woman. I doubt I’ll still be around, but maybe one of my children can take pictures and write a blog entry or two commemorating a long life of service to our Lord.