This morning, at the time of writing this, I handed in my final undergrad assignment. As always it was a sprint to the finish line, featuring very little sleep and a lot of diet coke. With one hour to go, I pushed the submit button and waited for 'Celebration by Kool and the gang' to start playing in the background. It didn’t. Tonight my family and I are celebrating by eating Chinese food and watching some terrible Netflix movie. (Other subscription services are available.) It’s not the way I had imagined I would celebrate this moment. I thought it would be with my best friends, in my uni town of York. We would picnic during the day, and end the night at our favourite Italian restaurant. This night would set the tone for the next month, the best of the uni calendar, and mark a beautiful bon-voyage to uni life. We would spend it picnicking and eating out. Visiting new places and saying goodbye to people we’d never see again and goodbye for now to those we’d see again soon.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? That’s the thing about plans, they always do. Yet, rarely do they ever turn out as we expect. In reality, my plans could have been changed, not because of a global pandemic, but because of the weather. It could have rained, and our picnic could have been ruined. We probably wouldn’t have ended up at our favourite Italian either, because you have to book so far in advance, and knowing me, I would have forgotten. Most likely, to celebrate handing in my final uni essay, my friends and I would have ordered Chinese food to our little granny house and watched some awful Netflix film.
Over the last couple of months, I have noticed that those about to graduate, myself included, have spent a lot of time lamenting, crying out to God, and sitting in a vat of disappointment. I’m not saying that it isn’t sad. It is. The fear of the unknown as to what comes next, when job prospects are down, and the lack of closure or finality to a lot of hard work, and significant time of life, is truly difficult. Yet, none of this was a given. We weren’t guaranteed jobs out of uni or a full month of messing around with friends. And as far as the closure goes, I can’t help thinking that no amount of time would have been enough with the ones I love, and I would never have been able to get ‘closure,’ from those beautiful friendships. My heart would have still ached.
So instead, Class of 2020, let’s savour the moments we have had. The friendships that make your hearts ache, the memories that make you laugh till your stomach hurts, the foreign places that are now home, and, for me, the church full of strangers that are now family. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to thank God for. Instead of mourning, I am giving thanks. Will you join me?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
*To drum home just how much plans do not go to plan, my family ditched me and I ended up eating rubbish mac and cheese on my own!