I’m a little more nostalgic this weekend than normal. Forty years ago, I walked across the stage to collect my high school diploma. It is hard to comprehend that four decades have slipped by…in the proverbial blink of an eye.
I flip through my old yearbook and can’t help but smile as I pause and read comments from my classmates. Countless memories crowd my mind. For a southern-born, southern-raised gal, the move to Hawaii mid-freshman year had been a tremendous cultural shock. But as my senior yearbook captures, I adjusted – and was even immersed – in the spirit of Aloha. I cried ugly tears when I left the island.
I read a few more entries. I confess, like some of the inked remarks, my memory has faded; I had forgotten many of the signers and for some, who signed with a first name only, I’ve been flipping through the pages trying to figure out who you were/are. I smile big when I read the pages’ long dissertation from a treasured friend, whom as promised in bold handwriting, is still my bestie.
I turn to the senior class section and pause on the page with my name. I examine the picture. While the smile was genuine, it masked a multitude of conflicting emotions: excitement, dread, fear and hope. At that time, I knew radical change was imminent: my father had orders to Washington, DC, immediately after my graduation and I knew I had to get a job. There was no grace period to transition into adulthood.
I trace the outline of my face in the photo. In many ways, I am still that 17-year old. I still try to make the ‘new kid’ feel welcome. I am still quick to give a stranger a smile. I still give someone the benefit of the doubt. I still cheer for the underdog. I am still a peacemaker and a fixer. I still choose to see the cup as half-full.
Yet in many ways, I am different. The years have taught me hard life lessons. I’ve learned to establish boundaries in relationships. I am aware some folks have hidden stingers and take pleasure in hurting others. I walk away from friendships that become toxic. I can say no and not be guilted into a yes. I am cautious about making a commitment. I am more selective about whom I trust. I protect my heart.
I look at my graduation day photos. Snippet memories of the commencement flood my mind. The unexpected rain shower as we lined up to walk onto the outdoor stage. Our class song. Hearing my name announced as I walked across the stage to receive my diploma. Singing the alma mater for the last time. As I turned my tassel on my cap that warm June evening, I cheered with excitement with my classmates. Filled with dreams, goals and expectations, moving the tassel to the left symbolized farewell to a familiar childhood and hello to the big, exciting world.
In the years to come, I would learn that life would not follow my carefully scripted plans…
….yet hindsight has proven, repeatedly, that in the stillness of a surrendered and willing heart, God’s glorious plan – which is exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever image – will continually unfold.
So, to KHS Class of 1979, may we ever and always shine, shine, SHINE!
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21