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My Love Letter to the Graduating Class of 2017

May 19, 2017

1aAs you know, on graduation day we teachers are honored to be part of the ceremony, wearing our robe and regalia as we march up onstage and sit at either side of the festivities. Last week I sat in the third row and had the honor of watching you get your diploma. Congratulations, good friend.
One year they allowed me to be part of the first row of teachers and get a close view of the grads stepping across the stage – in front of the packed auditorium – and receive that beloved piece of paper that says you have completed your secondary school education.

I was seated near the ‘entry steps’, the ones where you stand as you are about to ascend to the platform and make your walk.  Just for fun, a fellow teacher (who shall remain nameless) joined me in whispering to each of the seniors who stood waiting:
“Walk carefully.  Everyone’s watching you.  Don’t stumble.  It would be embarrassing  if you fell in front of all of these people.” 

It made a nervous wreck out of a few of the seniors, and I now regret these actions. Well, not really.

But as I watched you walk on Sunday, I began remembering my own high school graduation and the gentle fear I had of tripping over my own feet…not only onstage that day … but in the days and years ahead.

Well, I made it across the stage that day.  But as for afterwards  … wow, I did fall in the years ahead.  Mistakes, miscues and errors dogged me all along the path like so many tree roots.  It seemed like a monthly requirement for me, and I’m surprised I haven’t broken my nose, I face-planted so many times.


… I realized that I wasn’t the only one stumbling on the path.  As I rose and rubbed my raw knees and elbows, I saw a lot of friends and co-workers and neighbors and family members … and, well, everybody.

This tripping business was more common than I thought.  

I began to understand the Necessity of Tripping.  In this life given to us by God, we will slip and trip more than we like, but it will be a learning process – to teach us to be wiser in the future and to be an aid to those alongside us.  It’s part of life.

In this age of selfies and self-promotion, few of your generation want to harbor the thought that they could be anything less than perfect, but that’s just foolish.  We all falter, Christian friend.  We lose our balance more often than we’d like to think, but there it is.  And no amount of doctored Instagram or Facebook pictures will disguise the fact that we’re all folks created by a loving God who have faults – and that’s okay. One day we’ll reach perfection, but for right now we have a bit of a path to negotiate.

Boxing06.jpgMy prayer for you is this:  be honorable and stay true to Jesus, and don’t quit.  Be real, for goodness sake, and understand that failure opens up the opportunity for learning and courage.  2 Timothy 1:7 reminds you that God did not give you the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.  Well, use that sound mind to take a step up, not a step back.

I don’t want to hear of you quitting on life because you haven’t achieved perfection. Welcome to the world of the rest of all of us who live on this planet.   Get back up – you’re better than to crawl away, sniffling.  You’re made of sterner stuff.

The scholar of Proverbs wrote: “though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…”  It’s not whether you will stumble – that’s a fact of life – but what you do when you are flat on your belly in the dust.  Some people will whimper and roll away.  Some will have a tantrum and start a blame game.  Others will get to their feet and shake off the dust.

And start walking again.

In the right direction.  I see you in this third category.

Now, go, my good friend.  I hope you remember some of the Biblical teaching I shared with you in the classroom.  Take God’s truth and get on with your life.  It’ll be a good life, I can assure you.

Don’t be afraid to fail.  In fact, don’t be afraid.

You can do it.

With love and great respect,

Dr. Brad Kent Zockoll,
a guy who is pretty dusty but still enjoys life.







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