Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published May 14, 2009.
A humorous graduation speech circulating on the Internet caught my attention. No attributions were included in the e-mail from which I’ve taken these excerpts:
- “Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.”
- “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”
- “Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
Although I’ve graduated several times, I remember only one bit of advice from one of those seemingly endless speeches. Sen. Robert C. Bryd, D-W.Va., delivered the keynote address.
Among the renowned statesman’s proposed goals for young graduates was a nugget that stuck with me for life. “Make your life a shared experience with God.”
I had been taught by my church and my parents to live that way, and over the years, I’ve come to think of that “shared experience” with renewed significance. I’ve interpreted the sharing to mean:
- Talk to God often, but listen more than you talk. If you want His advice, you have to come before Him with ears ready to receive His message and a heart ready to obey His instructions.
- Consult God about every decision, even the seemingly small ones. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, there are no “small” decisions. Every one we make carries consequences — good or bad.
- Always be honest with God. He knows how you feel anyway. He’s big enough to handle your anger, disgust, joy, sorrow, angst or just plain mean-spiritedness. Spending some time venting to Him can change those negative emotions to constructive ones.
- Never forget this: God loves you, and wants better things for you than you want for yourself. He never maliciously manipulates people or circumstances. He gently guides with a profound wisdom that comes from knowing the end from the beginning.
- Love God back. A shared experience is one that involves communication from both parties. The Bible says nothing will ever block His love for you. Make sure you never let anything stand in the way of your love for Him.
- When you “graduate” from one spiritual level to another, be eager for a new challenge to grow in your faith. Lifelong learning is at the heart of a shared experience with God.