It all happened so fast. Too fast!
Commencement is almost upon us.
I like to comfort myself by saying I'm not old enough to be the parent of a graduating senior.
The truth is I AM old enough to be the parent of an almost sixth-grader. The elementary years are drawing to a close and I have already had to register her for middle school.
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Together, we are commencing into a whole new chapter.
Commencement is a time to reflect while also looking ahead to new adventures.
Over the last few weeks, I've reviewed my first couple of chapters of Christian parenting and there's some things I want to say to my daughter moving forward.
Always be kind.
I know that your dad and I have said this every single day of your academic career. I know you might be tired of hearing it. You should know we have no plans to stop saying it.
As a child of God and follower of Jesus Christ, you don't have to win at all costs. The victory is already yours in Jesus. Therefore, you have all the freedom in the world to be kind to everyone and trust us, kindness matters and is remembered.
Use your time and your money wisely.
Please don't think your father and I didn't know we were a different kind of family making choices that seemed crazy to everybody else. We saw the turned-up noses and looks of shock and concern from others when we started taking you to serve with us at the migrant farm worker ministry during each one of your spring breaks starting with kindergarten.
It's true, you probably didn't get to Disney World as often as you could have. You experienced the Kingdom of Heaven in a way that will be a part of you forever. On this particular issue, we have no regrets.
I wish I could say to you I'm sorry that I didn't do your science fair projects or write your speeches for the speech contests each year -- even when you were angry with me because you were certain other parents did it for their children.
However, I am not sorry.
I will never be sorry for hard work that you did on your own, even when it appeared that there might have been an easier road. One of the reasons so many people have given up on church is because too many so-called Christians have taken the easy road and created a culture of hypocrisy that really hurts the body of Christ.
People aren't stupid and neither were your teachers -- they knew which students did their own work and which ones had their parents do it for them. The blessing of living with integrity is when the A's come (as they have and will likely continue), you can treasure them as something you wholly earned through your own hard work and effort with the gifts God gave to you.
Middle school is going to be the start of a whole bunch of choices: classes, activities, lifelong friendships. When you're unsure, pray first and then seek the guidance of those whom you trust and love because you've watched them live out their faith with all the things I mentioned earlier.
If for some reason you aren't interested in guidance from mom and dad (we've heard we'll soon become completely irrelevant), we hope we have introduced you to some significant adults whom we trust to lead you on the path of Christ and they'll be among those whom you call upon for advice.
Finally, I know I didn't always get it right and I just want to confess to you up front there's probably more than a few mistakes coming down the road from me.
I am sorry. Please forgive me.
Never underestimate how important a witness humility can be. Be generous in humility. Be gracious in forgiveness.
Oh, and if you're still reading this: Congratulations!
We're so proud of you!
Go with God into this next adventure!
The Rev. Hope Lee, lead pastor of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church and The Well, can be reached at 941-794-6229, firstname.lastname@example.org or biggreenchurch.org. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald written by local clergy members.