Remember your high school or college graduation? The bliss of finally being done with school but that complete terror of wondering what is next. This year seven of our students graduated university and this is that week in their life. University of Rwanda has ceremonies all week for each of the schools.
A few of them have told me that they do not want to attend their graduation ceremony for various reasons and with each, I have said “No. You must go!” I have explained more than once that from here forward life is full of a rush of events and very rarely do you get a chance to stand fully in one place and recognize years of accomplishment in one cap and gown moment. It is one of the purest moments of acknowledged and celebrated achievement. For our students, that accomplishment is even more profound. Many of them are the first to attend university in their family. Many people have sacrificed to get them to this point and many of them have already accomplished brave feats just by keeping their butts in school somehow. This is a day for entire families and communities to celebrate and I do not want a single one of my students to miss this moment in life.
That being said, the conversations got me thinking. Truly, I cannot think of many moments in my life where I felt as completely celebrated as my college graduation. It was ridiculous really. Yale does days of events and ceremonies and parties. I had lots of family fly to be there on my special day and we had perfect lobster at my graduation dinner! I was fully feted.
As I have gotten older, I can’t recall many moments like that–where I worked hard, accomplished a goal and stopped to party afterwards. Most of the time I find myself rushing forward in a frenzy to accomplish something more, to move to the next thing or passed out in a coma because I pushed too hard. The constant tale of the overachiever.
But, this week, it dawned on me. That is just dumb. It shouldn’t be that way. I was telling my students that this is one of the biggest days of their life (and it is!) but if they live a little differently than I have, their lives could be full of graduation day grandiosity. Because life is hard enough, so we should celebrate as much as possible. (Yes, I am aware that many country western songs have been declaring this for years…) We should pause and acknowledge accomplishment regularly and thank God for making the way forward. We should celebrate each other. We should appreciate each little moment. I see that here in Rwanda but am not good at application.
So here goes. Here are just a few things that I think deserve a horn toot or a high-five in my life:
- By God’s complete grace, we moved into a new, bigger, better location and we are already seeing fruit from the potential of sufficient space! The price is so great and it is exactly what we needed in a crazy real estate market.
- I’ve hired 3 people over the last year and their skills are growing at an amazing rate. More importantly, throughout today we have been able to care for one another, encourage one another and laugh from our bellies–all while getting work done also. I am so proud of this team and so thankful to be in this work together.
- This year we have hosted far more visitors than ever before and I think most people see what i do–the amazing potential in these young leaders and now they partner with us even more to provide more opportunities. I have been able to help connect people from different cultures and everyone has been richer for it.
- I was able to get visas for 3 students–including a refugee–to go to internships in the states. It was a lot of blood, sweat, prayer and tears but I now I proudly look at the amazing opportunities for our students to learn and bring back new skills to Rwanda. It’s really an honor to invest that kind of effort into someone else’s potential.
- Students have graduated! Ours students have graduated! Hallelujah!!
- And over the last two months I have snuggled babies, hugged friends too long, whatsapped late into the night, hung with my sweet parents, visited 5 US states, cried with old friends, recovered from the worst flu of my life and instagrammed a crapload. Life is rich. Life is full. Life is too good. And I am so very grateful.
And honestly, I could go on and on. Yes, there is much more to do, but for this moment I bow my head in thanks and I celebrate a season of so many lovely moments and blessed gifts.
Now share with me some of the things that you have accomplished that we can celebrate together…