Not only am I a minister, I’m also a professor of Church History and Apologetics at a small missions college. Today’s post is an open letter that I wish I could send to all of my students, though I’m not sure how many of them will read this. They were my first class, and now their time is ending.
It’s graduation season all across America, and our tiny school is no different. We all gather and celebrate the two years you guys have studied and traded “normal” in for something a little less. It is a time for celebration, yes, but also a time of reflection and mourning. We will be joined by past graduates, making this kind of a class reunion and graduation celebration all at once. This time in your life is over. The training wheels are off, and now you must adult. It’s a raw deal, actually.
Your first class was also my first class. I was wide eyed and terrified of you all. I honestly had no idea how to teach, other than the mock lessons I had made in classes. You guys intimidated the everloving goodness out of me. I wasn’t sure what I had planned would work (it didn’t, as we changed textbooks the next semester), and I didn’t know how to be teacher-ly. Instead, I was myself, and asked you to introduce yourselves with favorite comic books characters…and I can’t remember what else. So, I tried to teach Church History with humor, irreverence, and as little technical terms as possible. And we had a great time, didn’t we?
But, as I look back on the last two years, what I remember isn’t the good times. I remember counseling students as “life happened”. I remember those who left and were asked to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of each and every one of you who darkened my doors, who put up with less-than-ideal distractions in these first two years (namely, not having a sitter for my kids)…but I’m stuck wondering ‘what if?’ for so many of you. I miss those of you who chose not to return, for whatever reasons, especially financial ones. I weep for those caught cheating or were asked to leave for whatever reasons. You made wrong choices, but maybe we could have shown more grace. I admit that I’m a bit biased, because some of you became my friends instead of just students.
So, as I put on my regalia and prepare myself to not cry, the tears will certainly fall, some happy, some bitter. All of them, however, are from a place of love.
God bless you all, you will be missed,