Army.

I went to Geraldine’s graduation last night.
My niece and several of my former students were graduating.

Nine years after my own graduation, I found myself being taken back to that stormy May night.
Remembering being a mess of emotions.
Fear and excitement.
Glad to finally have that chapter of my life behind me, and looking ahead to what may come.

Little did I know then that the plans and dreams I had would look nothing like the plans and dreams I would find myself chasing just a few short years later…

I was a smart kid.
Not the top of my class, but definitely not far behind.
I graduated fifth in my class.
I still tell myself that I could have been Valedictorian if I’d tried even just a little.

I thought I had things figured out.
The girl I had dated through my senior year was the one for me.
I would go to Snead for a couple of years while she finished high school.
Then I would transfer to Auburn to earn a business degree.
(A plan I’m not particularly proud of, but hey, I wanted a business degree, and I didn’t want to work that hard for it…Makes sense to me, does it to you?)
I would come back to Geraldine, and take an executive job at Liberty Bank.
Over time I would work my way up to Bank President and be a great success.
Then, eventually, she and I would get married.

That was my plan in high school.
Of course, things didn’t happen that way.

A few months into my freshman year, we broke up.
I decided to transfer to the University of Alabama instead. (Roll Tide!)
Then I proceeded to change majors from business to telecommunications.
I even started my first blog back then…and no, there is no way I’m giving that link out!

Nothing has turned out quite like I’d planned.
I’ve even found myself living in Huntsville… something I swore I’d never do.
All things considered, though, I couldn’t be happier with where God has put me for this particular season of my life.

God has always had something better in mind for me than her, Auburn, and a bank job.
I just couldn’t see that back then…

Which brings me back to last night.

I remembered what it was like being in those kids’ position.
Not quite knowing what comes next, and certainly not knowing how to prepare for it.
I’m convinced that high school, while providing a [questionably] solid educational base, does very little to prepare anyone for what comes next.

I remembered the night I graduated, I didn’t go to a party.
And there was no big celebration with my family and friends.

It was raining.
And I drove through the back roads for hours.
Radio up.  Windows down.
I remember it was the first time I’d heard Ben Folds’ Army on the radio and Red Hot Chilipeppers’ Scar Tissue immediately followed.
That indescribable feeling came, and the tears followed.
I still go back to that night every time I hear either of those songs.

The funny thing about time is that it changes everything.
The funny thing about time is that nothing ever really changes.

Last night, as I left to come back home to Huntsville, it was raining.
Radio up.  Windows down.
I was surfing the radio and something caught my ear:

In this time of introspection
I say to my reflection
God, please spare me more rejection
‘Cause my peers, they criticize me
Try to put it all behind me
But my redneck past is nipping at my heels
I’ve been thinking a lot today
I’ve been thinking a lot today
I’ve been thinking a lot today…

– Ben Folds, Army –

So, here it is.
My advice to the graduating class of 2010 and anyone else who may find it helpful:

Have dreams and pursue them with passion.
But don’t become so attached to your plans that you become devastated when God shows you something wholly different.
He ultimately knows best and can see the big picture when we really can’t.

Peace and love.

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3 thoughts on “Army.

  1. “I even started my first blog back then…and no, there is no way I’m giving that link out!”

    Well then I guess it’s a shame that I have posession of that link!!

  2. I think you should send this to the administration at your high school. I know this would be way more meaningful than anything a nervous valedictorian could possibly say… including my two-minute speech on the value of ‘friendship’.

    I love how the story continues to unfold in your life.

    Can’t wait to see you at CrossPoint tomorrow. Hopefully we can convince you to stay… Don’t think I’m not praying it’ll happen.

  3. I think you and I are the only people in the world (or at least Geraldine) who get the relavance of “The Folds.” I can find a lyric for almost every significant event in my life…

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