Each graduate's path of hope

A Christian Science perspective: A college professor's view of graduates' bright road ahead.

I’ve taught college for 12 years, and every year, some graduating senior says to me, “I just wish people wouldn’t ask what I’m going to do next!” Students often don’t know how to answer that question. Even those who are heading into a waiting career can find it all very daunting. What most of them want to say is, “I don’t know.” But somehow that answer seems unacceptable, as if they are supposed to have it all figured out.

Those of us who ask the question usually know that they don’t have it all figured out. After all, we’ve likely changed jobs or careers or homes many times and know that this next move for these students is just one of many on the road they will take. From my vantage point, where I have past students stop by to tell me how life is going for them, I can say to these graduating seniors, “It’s going to be OK. You’ve got a great adventure ahead of you.”

It’s more than just human experience that makes me feel that way, however. It’s the knowledge that these students are important to their divine Parent, a Parent who has a purpose for them. The world may seem big, and their role in it uncertain, but the Bible tells us: “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification” (I Corinthians 14:10). Each person has an important voice to share, a significant voice. God isn’t going to lead these new graduates into a place where that voice cannot be shared or heard. Divine Love has given them this voice for a purpose, and as they listen for that purpose, their way will be clear.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. The landscape may be changing, but the things they’ve learned along the way aren’t changing. In the post-university world, loving your neighbor is still the right thing to do; being patient with those you live with will make life easier; honesty, it turns out, really is the best policy. All these lessons are going with graduates as they go off to find this purpose. And as they continue to practice these basic lessons, they will continue to hear what they need to know and make the decisions they need to make.

The founder of the Monitor – a woman who was often stepping off into the unknown at a time when women were expected to stay safely at home – recognized the way in which identifying oneself with basic goodness is a recipe for success in life. This woman, Mary Baker Eddy, in addressing members of her church with words that speak to graduates today, wrote: “Goodness never fails to receive its reward, for goodness makes life a blessing. As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 165).

Graduates are not really stepping off into the unknown. They are stepping off into an adventure of imparting more of the goodness they’ve already been sharing, into a world waiting for their significant voices. God does not give them talents with no way to express those talents. Divine Love has a place and purpose for each one. Praying to understand this fact not only helps the new graduates but everyone searching for meaningful work in this economy.

In the present economic situation, graduates may be concerned that what they have to offer won’t be appreciated – that they are competing against people with far more experience than they have in a tight economic market. The funny thing about competition, though, is that it’s based on the idea of limited resources – limited jobs, money, talent. It’s a view the world accepts as fact, but it’s not the view God has. From where divine Love is sitting (and that’s everywhere), resources of good are spiritual and unlimited. Christ Jesus taught his disciples this lesson over and over again, directing them to cast their nets on the right side of their ship to find a boatload of fish, and feeding thousands when there seemed to be only a tiny fraction of the food needed.

Divine Love has enough for all and gently leads us to see and accept all the good it has for us. No one is left out of this divine plan, and everyone’s particular talents are appreciated and seen as significant, and will find their right outlet.

So our graduating friends can answer with confidence instead of uncertainty that they are going off to do something good. They may not know exactly what it looks like yet, but they can know that God does, and as they continue to do good, they will be standing on a rock and acting with a solid purpose.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.