It’s graduation time all over the country, and I have several friends and family members who are graduating from high school or college. I’m so proud of their achievements, excited for their futures, and looking forward to all that God has planned for them. As I’ve read posts on social media sites, I’ve noticed a running theme in a lot of them. Many of the well wishers have encouraged the graduates to enjoy these times, as they are the best times of their lives. Some of these were posted by young people, but many were posted by older folks, and it troubled me. Is our youth really the best time of our life? I beg to differ.
I certainly enjoyed my youth. Raised in a loving, Christian home, I attended a high quality school and received an excellent education. I had many friends, participated in lots of things. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we certainly never really wanted for anything. Probably had you asked me then, I would have told you that, yes, that was the best time of my life.
I married young and my early twenties were filled with a new marriage, a new step daughter, financial woes, college years. They were also filled with laughter , love, fighting, fun, the ups and downs that all young couples face. I think that I would have easily qualified that as the best time of my life.
I became a mother at 27, and the memories of those early years are some of the sweetest memories I have. Naps taken with an infant, first words, first steps, Sunday mornings in church, sweet baby smells. Yes, that was the best time of my life.
As my daughters grew, the challenges changed. They became teenagers, with all the fun that that entails. Mood swings, more laughter, fighting, crying, and fun. Teenagers will either age you quickly, or make you into solid steel. I chose the latter. Definitely the best time of my life.
My kids have grown into beautiful, hard working, intelligent women who don’t really need my hand at their backs all the time. That young boy I married so many years ago has become the most spectacular man. He and I have time to travel and play, we work together, live, laugh and love together. This is absolutely the best time of my life.
Lest you think I’ve had no truly dark times, let me assure you that there were. There were seasons of my life that I battled depression. A very long, dark season when a family situation threatened to engulf me. The years my sisters and I spent taking care of our elderly parents, only to have to eventually put them in a nursing home. Easily the worst day of my life, bar none. Also, the best times of my life. I grew more spiritually during the dark times than I ever grew in the light. My strength was discovered (not mine at all, but the One who provides it) and I was refined. A process that is still ongoing. Those were the best times of my life.
So, graduates, don’t think you have to grieve the passing of these days. You have many, many seasons of life ahead, and, if you allow them to be, they will be the best times of your life, even when they’re not.