pomp and circumstance

Recently, I was awarded the awesome opportunity to speak at a graduation ceremony.  The gratitude that I feel for such a privilege is truly immeasurable.  So after much prayer and pondering, here are some of the tidbits that I was able to share with the graduating class:

Your parents: love them unconditionally, thank them often and appreciate them much. They have given you their absolute best and they love you like no one else does, like no one can and like no one else ever will on the entire planet.

Do not compare yourself with others as if one of us were better and another worse.  We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.  Each one of us is an original.  -from Galatians 5:25-26, The Message translation

Shine brightly and be yourself, but know that it's not ALL about you.  When dealing with others, seek first to understand... not to be understood.  (Thank you, Brenda Puckett!)

We are all part of an unfolding and ongoing story which includes a past, present and future, so look at people from a historical perspective rather than a mathematical perspective (as if they are a problem to be fixed or solved by you).  You are not the Ultimate Fixer of All Things anyway.  God is.  

Know the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.  Hopefully, you will continue to be a lifelong learner; however, in all your knowledge, do not forsake wisdom.  Wisdom comes from God so just ask Him for it.  He will give it to you generously.

God is not a Republican.  
God is not a Democrat.

He does not fit into any of these boxes that we conveniently create to categorize ourselves and others.  God is not in a box at all because He cannot be contained.  He reveals His attributes and character through the pages of the Bible and his handiwork surrounds us in the beauty of others, in the beauty of nature and the changing of the seasons. His spirit inspires music, books, art, interactions with others and He even moves within our very hearts. Look for, love, appreciate and acknowledge His work. There is evidence everywhere.

Live because you are dying. Death is sometimes called the great equalizer because it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor... when it's your time, it's your time and He who dies with the most toys is still dead. Maximize each moment and encourage others to do the same.

Always do your best and trust God to do the rest. This means you work hard, play hard, pray hard and leave your concerns in the good Lord's hands.  Whenever you find yourself going through tough times (inevitable... ), know that in the end, everything truly works out for good. If it's not good yet, then it's not the end.

You can sum it all up to say this: Love God. Love People...or Love your neighbor as yourself, which means treat other people the way you want to be treated. Not just some people. Not just the people who look like you. Not just the people you like or agree with, but ALL people.
Love them and treat them the way you WANT to be treated. 

Most importantly: Your best is yet to come!

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