Without further adieu, I would like to address the graduates.
Friends, I stand before you tonight in awe of our potential. We have been given an enviable education, loving families and friends, support from teachers, and a gentle nudge every now and then from people in our lives. We can be anything that we want to be, but – and hear me when I say this – we cannot always be what we want to be when we want to be it. Sometimes we will have to make sacrifices and do things that we wish we didn’t have to.
Ask yourself right now, what is the purpose of your life? What is it? Is it to become a world class athlete? Is it to become a lawyer? Perhaps a doctor? Maybe a teacher? Or maybe you don’t quite know yet. My point is this: without a purpose, life is aimless and meandering. With a purpose, life has direction and meaning. Perhaps you have heard of a book by the author Rick Warren called “The Purpose Driven Life.” This book was written for the sole purpose of helping you find the purpose of your life. I would encourage all of you to read it. It changed my outlook on life. However, I am not here to assign you summer reading. Classmates, I know from experience that all too often in life, we get caught up in the daily grind and forget that we are here on this Earth for only a short time. While it may seem like infinity to us, compared to eternity, it is infinitesimally small. We cannot spend one moment of our time here on this Earth forgetting our purpose. Perhaps you say that you don’t have a purpose, well let me help you. Finding your purpose is a bit like riding a bike in that once you learn your purpose, you will always know it. I want to be a neurosurgeon later in life. This is not my purpose. My purpose is to help people. Your purpose is not given in a job description. Your purpose is not even your job. But your job or career can help you achieve your purpose. Ultimately, you are not the master of your destiny, that is God, but you are capable of influencing your future right now. No one can tell you what your purpose is, but I guarantee you that if you read this book, you will at least be on the road to finding your purpose. Proverbs 19:21 says “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I say to you tonight that if you can find God’s purpose in your life, you will know without a reasonable doubt what you will do with your life. That is one of the keys to finding and living a successful life.
There will be times in your life when you have trouble. This is one of the hard facts of life. Many of us have experienced hardships that have helped to shape us into who we are today. Many of us also have been blessed enough to not have had those dreadful experiences. I wish that I could stand up here and tell you that you will be able to walk through life without a worry or qualm, but I would be lying. The secret to handling troubling times is to always allow yourself to be transformed by the trouble. Take nothing for granted and always, always look for the good in any situation. Never be afraid of change, for the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. We live in a constant state of change. I guarantee you that if you constantly fight the change that is certain to come in your life, you will be like a fish swimming upstream: stagnate and unmoving. To help you cope with accepting trouble, I hope that you would use the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Acceptance of trouble is never an easy task, but it is inevitable. I know that personally, I have had my own struggles coping with the situations that life has thrown me. As you all know, during my sophomore year of high school, I lost my father in a car wreck. That was an extremely hard time in my life, and I tried time and time again to fight the unceasing change. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful. However, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I know that he is in a better place. After all, only the good die young, or so the saying goes. My point here is that acceptance of change and of troubling situations can ultimately make your life more peaceful. That is what we aim for is it not? We all wish to lead simpler, more carefree lives.
As you leave here tonight, friends, I am sure that you will be congratulating each other on your accomplishments. I am certain that you will feel on top of the world because you have finally escaped the confinement of the halls of Refugio High School. I know that this is true because I feel the exact same way. Throughout your time here at our high school, I am sure that you have had some not so pleasant memories; however, tonight I believe that we should all let go of the bad memories, and only remember the good times. If you are constantly looking behind you at what has already occurred, then there is no way that you can look forward to see what life has in store for you. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Please, shed some light on the darkness in your life. Let love flow into your hate like a great river. Let everything go. Start over fresh. This is our graduation day. Let us rejoice and be happy.
In closing, congratulations on making it this far. I pray that you do not stop here. There is so much more to do in life than to graduate from high school. This is only the beginning of the ultimate journey that will last a lifetime, so buckle up; it could be a bumpy ride. At this point I am reminded of the lyrics of a popular hymn in my church. The title is “Because He Lives”. This is the chorus:
Because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives all fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living just because he lives.
How true do these words ring? To me, they speak volumes. Please remember these words when you face uncertain days in your future. I know that God will always be with us. Richard Bach, an American writer once said “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.” Mr. Bach was right. As long as there is breath in your lungs, your life on earth and your mission is not done. So keep on trying. Never quit. There is always a way. Carry your Bobcat spirit with you always. May God bless each and every one of you.