Graduation: what's next?

A Christian Science perspective.

It’s that time of year – students all over are donning caps and gowns and taking the stage to receive their diplomas. Graduation season is a time of celebration and pride for young scholars, families, and educators, as they gather to commemorate and applaud students’ academic achievements.

For a lot of students, however, graduation can be a little bit of a shock. When I graduated from college, my pride at having received a diploma was mixed with a sudden fear about having to get “restarted.” I’d spent four years carving out a social and academic niche at college, and now all of a sudden I didn’t have the benefit of that structure anymore. Even though I felt well prepared for finding a career and working as an adult, I also felt directionless and scared. I worried about having to begin all over again, with a new job, new city, and new friends, and I didn’t know how to get started.

A lot of my friends felt the same way. To a graduate walking across the stage, the future seems so open, and the decisions so life-changing. It’s a simultaneously liberating and terrifying feeling.

At graduation, or at any point where we’re unsure about the future or don’t feel like we know how to get started on something, there is a spiritual solution at hand. We can pray to understand more of our relationship with God, who is always present to guide us through challenges large and small.

A psalm provides this sweet assurance of God’s guidance: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (32:8). And the book of Isaiah contains the following promise of guidance: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (41:10).

Promises like these are not wishful thinking or dreamy speculation. Whenever we’re worried about facing the future or about not having enough wisdom or resources or connections to get started on something, it’s comforting to realize that these assurances have the force of divine law behind them. God, infinite good, never turns from us, and we can always rely on spiritual inspiration to reveal what we need to do and to inform our practical actions.

In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy explained the continuous guidance of God, who is infinite Mind, in even simpler terms: “It is the prerogative of the ever-present, divine Mind, and of thought which is in rapport with this Mind, to know the past, the present, and the future” (p. 84).

God is not bounded by an uncertain future or worries as to what’s in store – and as His children, we can express confidence and dominion in our lives. Prayer that listens quietly for God’s guidance comforts us and reveals practical steps, allowing us to approach the future fearlessly. We have everything we need to meet challenges, whether that means starting our lives after graduation or trying to make a decision for the future.

As I prayed for a sense of direction during that summer, I began to feel guided and inspired as I prepared to begin life on my own. Within a few months, I found that my postgraduation life was rewarding and filled with new challenges.

Graduation, or any situation in which you’re facing a wide-open future, may seem scary at first. But calm, humble prayer reveals that your real sustenance is continuous, and not subject to sudden or jarring changes. The way to start is always through prayer, by turning to God and following His constant direction, moment by moment.

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