This past spring, I graduated from Concordia University Chicago (let’s go Cougars!) with my bachelor’s degree in Christian Education.
The truth is, I definitely didn’t want to walk at my graduation ceremony. They’re long and boring and all-around not my favorite event. But mom and dad seemed to think it was important (and they helped fund the whole educational endeavor) so on May 6th I donned the traditional (and altogether hideous) cap and gown and found my place in line amid my graduating peers (I know you’re all picturing me as the quiet and devoted daughter, but I assure you I voiced my fair share of complaints about the whole situation).
This ceremony was not my parents’ first graduation rodeo. In fact, I suspect that all together the ever-patient Steve and Linda Hayden have attended upwards of 20 graduation ceremonies in their lives. That’s a lot of uncomfortable bleachers and “motivational” speeches. Bless their supportive souls.
But as much as I kicked against the nostalgia and cliched sense of empowerment that graduation is meant to inspire, as I sat down in my designated seat that Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but spend some time reflecting on the transitional state my life is in. And as happy as I am to be working my dream job in a wonderful town, I still felt a little scared.
Change is hard. It’s not a new lesson or a unique thought. As an educator, I see it in the little kiddos as they beg their parents not to make them meet a new Sunday School teacher and I see it in high school seniors when the question, “So what are you doing next year?” strikes fear into their eyes. It’s not just the younger believers who struggle with this fear either. As an adult, your family is constantly changing before your eyes. People grow and they make mistakes. The people who 10 years ago you swore would always be a part of your life may not be anymore. The person you are today could be drastically different tomorrow. And that uncertainty is a scary thing no matter how old you are.
Our whole life is transitional. Every day is new and has new challenges and joys in it. We celebrate the happy transitions (graduations, weddings, baptisms, retirements, etc.) and we mourn that hard transitions (job loss, funerals, divorces, etc.). And through all the change that life brings we may find ourselves asking the age-old question, “Where’s God when I’m scared?” (cue Jr. Asparagus singing ‘God is Bigger Than the Boogeyman’).
But friend, let me assure you that you are not the first person to ask this question. Remember Jesus’ disciples? You know, the people who actually saw Him do all the amazing things we read about? They doubted too. Even as Jesus was ascending to heaven the Bible says, “when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted” (Matt 28:17). They doubted that the church could go on without
Him. They doubted Jesus would still be with them, even when He left this earth. They doubted they could survive this drastic of a change.
So what does Jesus do? He looked down at these disciples and He saw me, sitting nervously in a silly cap and gown. And He saw the family that’s changing because of a heart-breaking divorce. And He saw the high school senior who dreads the question, “What are you doing next year?”. And the little kid who hates meeting new people. And the new parents holding their new little baby. And He saw you, and whatever change, good or bad, you’re scared of. He saw all of us, unsure of the future in this ever-changing world and He said, “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”.
Yeah change is, and always will be, hard. And changes never end, which means life is always going to be a little scary. But we have a God who is more amazing, more unchanging, more loving than we can even comprehend. And He’s with us today, tomorrow, and for the rest of time. So take heart church, the changes you’re facing right now may seem big but your God will always be bigger. And He’s with you now and forever, even to the end of the age.
All My Love,
Former Scaredy-Cat (okay, still kind of a scaredy-cat)
Current Director of Christian Education
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church