My daughter Emily waltzed across the stage on Saturday, took the diploma handed her by the academic dean, shook hand with her college president, then true to form, turned, smiled and kicked up a little ballet jig I’ve seen her execute a hundred times since the age of 4. Tha’ts my girl… Emily along with several hundred of her class graduated from college on Saturday. I’m proud… Cheers. Kudos. Gratitude. Joy. I’m the delighted and favored father of one extraordinary young woman!
Now it’s the Monday after… and other emotions are settling in their place. With Emily I’m wondering what is next now that the pomp is past. And I’m unsettled. She has a job interview this week. That’s promising. But also, like millions in her generation she’s entering the workforce destabilized by a turbulent economy. Most recent college grads – Emily included – have a lot of college debt. It’s costly to get hold of one of those diplomas and win for the chance to dance in a black gown. It’s Monday and I’m wondering what will come next for Emily.
I’ve always prayed for Emily, since before she was born. I’ve prayed out of love, fear, duty, hope, desperation, regret, joy, and stubborn faithfulness. I’ve always known – and I admit it – that I’m inadequate as her father. What I offer is never enough, never perfectly balanced, never untainted from my own cumbersome debris. So in the void I resort to prayer. I ask Emily’s true Father in Heaven, to cover my tracks and bring her the destiny I can barely see and never purely help her achieve.
Here’s a parent’s prayer for a college graduate…
“God, another rite of passage has come and gone. The child you have given, has taken another step into the world. I am thankful, proud, delighted, relieved, and yet more than a little apprehensive. It’s a familiar mix of emotions, one I’ve known all the years I’ve shared this precious child with you. Today, I know you share many of these feelings, for you are a father of great passion and joy. You share all perhaps except the apprehension. You never fear, because you are love, and perfect love drives out fear. You are a parent who knows no fear! I need that today. I need some of your parental boldness. As my child walks out now into a new season of responsibilities and challenges, in a world of struggle, I once again choose to release him/her to you. I have had to do this many times already: the first day of kindergarten, when the driver’s license came in the mail, on that first date, at high school graduation, when we drove off that first day of college, and now, when that journey is completed and they step out into the world as we know it, full of tough, dog-eat-dog battles. All we can do it pray for your hand, which reaches to protect when ours cannot. I say in faith, ‘God, bless and keep her, make your face shine upon her and be gracious to her, and look on her with favor and grant her peace.’ In the name of Jesus…”