We regret to inform you, in light of recent events, due to the situation happening worldwide … My graduation got canceled. Although I expected the announcement to come, I didn’t expect the emotions that came with the announcement to feel so amplified. Handling disappointment is hard; handling disappointment when you expect it is almost harder, because it means you weren’t able to control what you knew was coming.
To be honest, I felt guilty about feeling disappointed. The world is experiencing a pandemic, which made me think I shouldn’t be over here crying about a canceled graduation. However, I was reminded that what the world is facing doesn’t diminish the disappointment I’m feeling, and that’s okay.
Graduation is a time of celebration with family, friends, and classmates. It’s a time to say, “Look! We made it through all those late nights, rough classes, game days, and 2:00am food runs.” It’s the final milestone before graduates enter the world to become real adults. While most of us won’t have the big ceremony we were looking forward to, that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate what we’ve accomplished.
Let me tell you something: Your degree is not less valuable. Your worth is not reduced by not moving your tassel from the right side to the left. You are not diminished. God is still with you even in your disappointment. How great is that?
A life with Jesus doesn’t mean we are void of disappointment, but it does mean we never have to go through life alone. Romans 5:3-5 NLT says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” If you’re like me, you’ve probably skipped over the first part of the verse that says we can rejoice when we run into problems. When I heard that the rest of the school year would be online, that my friends and I wouldn’t have our last senior class events, ring ceremony, birthday celebrations, social club gatherings, or experience the joy of walking out of the building after our last final ever, the last thing I wanted to do was rejoice.
But then God gently reminded me that He knew this was coming for all of us, even if we don’t understand it yet. I realized that handling disappointment is easier when we rejoice in God, because in Him, we have no disappointments. Instead of focusing on what is lost, we can focus on what is gained during this season: time with our families before heading off into the full-time working world, rest to allow God to speak into our futures, and space to invite Him into what we’re feeling.
I’ve had my graduation date circled on my calendar for months. When that date passes by with no cap and gown, I’m sure a new wave of disappointment will hit. However, this time it will be mixed with rejoicing—both for what I’ve gained, and for the reminder that God is still in control. Class of 2020, we can still laugh without fear of the future, because God is bigger than our biggest disappointments.