With May coming to an end and summer shouting a big HELLO :), I thought I’d share a few of my favs from commencement, award ceremonies (I’m not kidding) and EOY carpool contemplation.
Today I will try to tell you what I learned in death.
Ms. Sandberg shared for the first time in public what she has learned from the death of her husband last year. She encouraged the young grads that one can thrive in success and in adversity. She included research from psychologist Marty Seligman (from whom we’ve learned a little bit about tackling entitlement via his research on learned helplessness vs. earned success.) “Martin Seligman found that there are three P’s—personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence—that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.”
- The first P is personalization—the belief that we are at fault.
This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.
- The second P is pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life.
You know that song “Everything is awesome?” This is the flip: “Everything is awful.” There’s no place to run or hide from the all-consuming sadness.
…I remember sitting in my first Facebook meeting in a deep, deep haze. All I could think was, “What is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?” But then I got drawn into the discussion and for a second—a brief split second—I forgot about death.
That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving and they carried us—quite literally at times.
- The third P is permanence—the belief that the sorrow will last forever.
We often project our current feelings out indefinitely—and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious—and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious. We feel sad—and then we feel sad that we’re sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings—but recognize that they will not last forever.
I’m not sure why her speech hit home around here – maybe because several people/families we ADORE have been hit hard with adversity (death, terminal illness, financial hardship, wayward kids, …) – but it’s a good word, regardless. Worth the read or watch (link is above.)
Then LOVED this from Bryan Dunagan, pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church who gave the commencement at one of the kids’ schools? He shared lots of terrific advice, but this one I found particularly sticky:
Hurry is the great enemy of our day. The Lord never gives us more than we can do. If you have too much on your plate, God did not put it there.
He also shared this quote: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
And a few words on one of my favorite topics – comparison – from Middle School Head, Jeff Hendricks who had this to say about awards.
Let me offer a couple words to you. If your response is cynical or critical because your name isn’t called, think about this: Steph Curry was recently unanimously voted the MVP of the National Basketball Association. Was this a negative statement about all of the other players in the NBA? Not at all. … And by giving him the award the voters are in no way suggesting that Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant are bad basketball players and not doing a good job. They are simply saying that in this year, under these particular circumstances, this player stood out to these people who voted.
… In the same way, the awards today are not negative statements about any student; they are simply acknowledgements of notable achievement and effort under these particular circumstances of this year. Today if you come in cynical or critical, I want to encourage you to check your spirit. It may be an opportunity to grow graciousness and joy in your own heart. And think about the ways that you have grown – not how you compare or don’t measure up.
And for those of you whose names are called, if you came in placing too much weight on the awards, remember this: All of our gifts come from God, and today we recognize students in whom certain gifts have stood out this year as they have faithfully developed them. Our focus is about God’s work in you and how we have seen it manifested. The awards are positive statements about your work and character – enjoy them and receive them graciously. But remember that they are not the sum total of your identity.
And finally, from a shotgun rider who survived the year: “It’s so nice to only have to be you” – meaning that there’s freedom in being exactly who the Lord created her to be.
More to come on YOU-nique gifting and purpose soon.
Thanks for walking the road with me. I’d love to hear you found especially inspiring or convicting during your round of EOY ceremonies.