I was reminded today by Greg that it has now been three years — three years, two weeks & two days to be exact — since we graduated. It's amazing how fast the time has gone and while I often think in terms of age (Ask Alissa how old I am. She insists that I was in school for 12 years), I don't frequently consider how far removed I am from some of the most significant times of my life. Sure I still have friends in school, beaucoups of them really, but I'm starting to feel my role changing in the lives of young friends and the youth at church.
So here are some of the things that have happened in 3 years.
Probably most significantly I've had two, count them, TWO real world, full time salaried and with benefits jobs with responsibilities and projects that depend on me to get done! I conquered the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam a year out of school, preparing me for licensure as a Professional Engineer, which may be as close as a year and a half away. I've picked up kayak fishing and cycling as hobbies, run a half and full marathon, and gone to the end of one of what most consider the most difficult cave in Texas. Between work and play, travels have taken me to Georgia (and my home town, good ole Villa Rica), Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Ireland.
Financially, God has allowed me to pay off 12k in credit card debt and make a 10k dent in the loan that bought my house and paid for my last years of school. He's let me save 20% of my income and has been faithful to provide for all my needs and so much more. I learned earlier this year the adage is true that you can't outgive God. Ask and I'll tell you the story.
To the high schoolers at church I'm no longer a picture of the next immediate step in their lives, but just a figure in the distance, and to the students in my Middle School Choir I don't even know what it means to have fun. Where just years ago I was the voice of someone older that they could relate to, I am now the same as anyone else that might work with them or a parent offering advice. This is how life moves and it is all OK with me, but represents a change in the way I look at my ministry within the church, having now to speak as an elder, not a peer.
So the question arises, what do I do with these changes? And the answer I think is that I keep changing. I don't want to be the same person I was in college. I want to grow and learn and hopefully not give up on fun times, but mature into a man of God. I remember in high school when a young lady a year my elder whom I dearly respected wrote to me after a mission trip, "You're so much more than a goofball." The feeling was so confused – a mix of pride (as she went on to say how she'd seen my maturity) and stabbing at the idea that for years all she'd seen was a clown. I get the same feeling when week after week folks that I see at church every Sunday ask, "Are you out of school yet?" and I wonder if all they see is another man acting like a kid. I hope not.
2 Peter 3.17-18
Disclaimer to my friends in school still: I, of course, hold you very dear and hope you don't think I'm to old to stay close!