The best days of your life?
When I was graduating from high school, I was told that I would look back on those days as “the best days of your life.” Later, as I was married, the father of two small sons, and trying to put myself through college, I was told, “You’ll look back on these days as the best days of your life.” Well, I don’t.
I suspect that all across America, well-meaning graduation speakers and older people of influence in the graduates’ lives are saying something similar. For most of the high school and college grads, it simply isn’t true. Their better days lie ahead.
Over the years I have asked the people in my congregations I have served, “If you had it to do over, how many of you would go back to high school?” In all those years not one hand has been raised.
Oh, some would later say, “Well, if I could only know then what I know now, I might go back to high school.” High school days, as we look back on them, were times of social angst, uncertainty, peer pressure, lack of confidence, trying to look and act like everyone else to prove we were unique, raging hormones, acne, and a long list of things few wish to encounter again.
When the question is asked of college graduates, the responses are not so uniform. Some began to find themselves in college, to search for meaning, to ask questions, to explore, and experience the beginning of manhood or womanhood. For me, college was something to get through, to get the diploma, so I could get on with my life.
No one paid my way (except for the G.I. Bill I earned as a U.S. Marine and the loans I took out that took a decade to repay), I had to work jobs to support not only the college expenses, but a wife at home with two kids, and, because I didn’t study a lick in high school (thinking that they would be my best days and I wanted to enjoy them), I had to work extra hard in college.
I graduated high school “summa cum barely.” When I graduated college, it was “cumma sum laude.” But it wasn’t fun. It was grueling.
Not that the high school and college experiences weren’t important or rewarding — they were. But, honestly, they weren’t the “best days of my life.” The best days were yet to come and I suspect that the best days of this year’s crop of graduates are still to be encountered and experienced.
So, here’s my unsolicited advice: Congratulate yourself on a job well done or at least breathe a sigh of relief that you finally made it.
Remember with fondness the friends, experiences, and activities of high school and college.
Go back and read the comments in the annuals, look at the photographs, wince a little and smile a lot.
But look ahead with anticipation and expectation. The best days — your best days — are yet to come.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]