Anxiety God Moments Graduation Speech Posted May 4, 2021

These tests ain't getting any easier, kid.

It's graduation season.

Again. Already.

If you are one of the thousands of young Americans graduating from college this year, you have my warmest congratulations. Not that you really need it as you will most likely be sitting in hundred-degree heat for hours on end. You will be constantly bombarded by photographers who charge outrageous prices just for a digital copy of your mug. You will have some mildly famous person using their time to essentially recite their resume. You will have all these inspiring speeches building you up, and you'll briefly feel like revolutionary intellectual before being thrown into the real world woefully unprepared.

So if this ceremony ends up ringing hollow for you, you are not crazy. These people got their money, and you will be lucky if they offer a banquet with the same food you have been sick of since your second semester. The only person who can really appreciate your accomplishments is you – and sometimes, it can take years for that to happen. Take it from me. Ten years ago, I was not thankful to cross the finish line; I was thankful that I didn't throw myself off a bridge.

I might have had a bad time at The University of Akron, but my final semester was some next-level stuff. For starters, I was slapped with an academic hold, supposedly for taking too long to graduate. I had to meet with my advisers multiple times just to have it overruled and to enroll in my classes. I also had to make extra visits to square everything away financially, as financial assistance was much harder to come by this time. I couldn't even afford to get my required books. There was also the matter of my father losing his battle his cancer, and me being on my own in the real world soon. Degree or not, this really was it.

My school load featured some of the hardest courses I had ever taken. Humanities and Philosophy forced me to open my mind during a time when I really couldn't. Even with hours of reading and writing, I still ended up failing on quite a few assignments. I started to fall behind as my father's health began to decline, and I was in danger of flunking out based on my attendance alone.

My father, unfortunately, would never see me walk across the stage, and my world came to a screeching halt nearly halfway through the semester. At that point, there wouldn't have been any shame in cutting my losses and saving myself the trouble. But I felt Satan kicking me as I was down. He rubbed every failure in my face and reminded me of all the hurtful things my father had said. I felt nothing but anger during a time I was supposed to grieve, and it was pretty much the only functioning feeling I had left. Now it was personal. Either I was going to triumph over Satan and put him to shame, or I was going to end up turning that anger on myself.

Any other feeling my brain happened to rediscover along the way came out in extreme spurts. One minute, I was taking notes in class. The next thing I knew, I was curled up in a hallway crying in front of my teacher. Everything became a blur, and I couldn't remember hardly anything. I couldn't remember if I had driven to campus or had simply gotten a ride there. I couldn't remember what I had for lunch or if I even had lunch. I couldn't remember my reasoning for stepping into the Dean's office, but I certainly remember having him calling security and having them escort me off campus. I was supposed to go over the questions for my final exam in Philosophy that day. I was completely ill-prepared when I showed up for it a few days later.

I tried to be optimistic and hoped that I bombed my Philosophy final gracefully enough to still pass the class. But as I was cramming for my Humanities final, my mind went completely blank. I was so sure I was going to fail that I nearly didn't bother to show up. Sure enough as I flipped through my exam, I couldn't answer any of the questions. I spent a few minutes crying. "Not like this, Lord. Not like this."

But when I opened my eyes, I noticed something on the back of the last page. It was an essay section worth a whopping sixty-percent of the grade, and there was a choice between three topics to write about. One of them had various fictional characters and historical figures hypothetically sitting together and talking about God. What would they all say about Him?

This was the only thing I focused on – and I nailed it. Not only did God give me the wisdom for where it mattered the most, but he had also given me a sense of peace. I knew that I would pass that class, and I knew I would be walking across that stage... even before finding out the grade I had recieved in my Philosophy class (I passed by a mere two-tenths of a percent).

When graduation came around, I was actually the last student to walk off the stage. It might have been based on school department and snaking by last names, but it further drove home the feeling of getting through by the skin of my teeth. What you're graduating with may not be appreciated by hardly anyone else or get you very far, but it's important to remember where you were and what God delivered you through. It's important to know that... YOU DID IT.

Not that you got something out of it.