Dear High School Senior,
(mine is named Sophia Rose Warren)
Alan Jackson, a guy who you probably don’t know of, is a country music singer who pinned a song years ago called “Where were you” as a response to the devastating despair, confusion, and uncertainty he felt immediately after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. An attack which claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
It’s hard to comprehend the context of that moment if you have no memory of living through it. Our homes, communities, our very nation was rocked to its core during those days. Emotions ranged from fear of what’s next to wanting to fight something we didn’t quite understand, and everything in between. In many ways, that country singer found the perfect lyric when he lamented “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” because we all remembered where we were when our life, as we knew it, changed.
Looking back, we didn’t know exactly what the days and years would bring. And even now, we have to leave it to the historians of some future time to determine all of it because we are still experiencing it. All that to say, we just knew then that it was surreal, there was loss, and life was ambiguous. It was our “moment” that we found ourselves living in and through.
But even in those dark and difficult days, God privileged some of us with the birth of a child that year. You were our 9/11 babies. You were so much more than a distraction from the news, you were the news! We rushed out to buy baby things, we had grandparents visiting and jockeying for position just to hold you. You were our joy, our sunshine, our gift received from our Heavenly Father. Some of us bought expensive “digital” cameras just to chronicle every first thing you did…(I think it was a Canon Powershot G2!) Your life was highly documented…and it continues to be up until this moment.
So what is this moment? Is it the moment that Covid-19 stole your graduation, and all of the last things of high school. Well, yes, it certainly has done that. And while you have tried to maintain a good attitude, you have experienced a loss, several actually.
And it’s not just about the loss of graduation, but it is the loss of all the things that lead up to the moment of graduation. It’s the sport seasons cut short, the celebrations with school friends that couldn’t happen. It’s the absence of family driving or flying in to watch you walk. Its the inability to give out hugs without consideration to social distancing. It’s all those things and a thousand more.
But please hear this.
We are sorry for those moments that you created in your own mind, and in some cases have dreamed about for years, that will simply not come to pass. We are truly sorry.
So dear child born during 9/11 and graduating during Covid-19, what are you to do? I would like to suggest just a couple of things.
- KNOW that you were born into a difficult moment, but at the same time you brought great joy to the lives of many. God knew when he wanted you to arrive on the stage, and what family he wanted you to bless. And you have been more of a blessing that you could ever understand or imagine. (Psalm 139:14)
- UNDERSTAND in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted. The greatest stories of mankind, of faith, and life always have an epic component to them in which they overcome adversity and use their experience for a greater good at a later time. This is God’s story actually. And you are in it. Maybe you feel more like Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, or Katniss Everdeen, the truth is…..this is part of your journey, and God will not waste it. C.S. Lewis once said “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” (Proverbs 16:33)
- ACCEPT that this won’t be the last difficulty of your life. You are being molded into something greater, a person who bears the mark of their Maker and he wants to be close to you in this moment, in every moment. And this adversity is revealing your true character, and your response to it will be an indication as to how you will grapple with the harder moments of life. (Psalm 34:18)
So class of 2020, wherever you are, however you celebrate, know that it is ok to feel the loss of this moment…but know and believe even more that you are being prepared for a greater chapter in your life, one in which Jesus has paved the way.