Congratulations. We are so proud of you! Graduation from high school is one of life’s great accomplishments.
Twenty-five years ago this week I sat where you sit now. I walked the walk. I received that all-important document. A lot has happened in my life since then, though. I’ve learned a few lessons. If you’ll allow me, I would like to share some of them with you right now.
I just wish somebody would have told me these things 25 years ago…
First of all, the most successful people I know are the ones who are keenly aware of what they don’t know. Be honest with yourself. Though the government may consider you an adult right now, you aren’t. It’s okay. Enjoy being 18 years old. But don’t think for a moment you’ve already got life figured out.
Call your grandma once a week. I know. You’re busy. One day you will understand what those phone calls mean to her. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Oh, and don’t just call or text your parents when you need something. That drives them nuts. Let them know how you’re doing on a regular basis.
Write hand-written thank you notes to everyone you can. It seems like such a small thing, but that simple gesture will win you the respect and admiration of those around you.
Understand that wealth is accumulated over time. Your parents didn’t start off with big homes full of furniture and a two car garage. Don’t expect to have luxuries when you first start out. Avoid debt and credit cards like the plague. Live within your means.
Don’t start smoking. Twenty-five years and tens of thousands of dollars later you will be kicking yourself if you do.
Always be the designated driver. Be the one who is in control. You will save yourself many headaches and heartaches. Besides, it’s fun to mess with your drunk friends.
When you make a mistake (and you will make many) admit it and face the consequences. Don’t compound the problem by trying to cover it up. Never forget, we are all just two or three bad choices away from losing everything.
Go to church. I know it’s hard now that your mom isn’t kicking you out of bed and making you go. In church, though, you will find the encouragement, support and family you’ll need to make it through this life. In church you will learn what it means to be the man or woman God wants you to be. In church you may even find your future husband or wife.
Or do you really think a bar is a better place to find true love?
In church you will find Jesus and his amazing, all-encompassing forgiveness. Through his Word and Sacraments, he will keep you close to him and give you a peace the world cannot give.
Because one way or another, you are going to die. One of my good friends died when he was your age – just eighteen years old. You could die tomorrow. The only thing that really matters in this life is Jesus and the heaven he won for you.
So plan for your future. Plan as if you were going to live a hundred years, but live each day as if it were your last.
As I said before, I wish somebody would have told me these things 25 years ago … or maybe they did and I just wasn’t smart enough to listen.
Either way, congratulations again. We are truly proud of you. May God help you become the man or woman he has made you to be.
Pastor Andy Schroer
Class of 1991